Three masked men break into Greek Patriarch's home in Istanbul

Three masked individuals broke into the Istanbul home of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the weekend, Athens-based newspaper Kathimerini said on Wednesday, citing a report by Anatoli, a Greek language publication in Turkey.

The incident took place on Saturday evening while Bartholomew, an ethnic Greek, was out attending a social gathering. The housekeeper was the only person on the premises, Anatoli said. Local police are investigating the incident.

Closed-circuit television cameras caught the persons entering Bartholomew’s home, located in a residential complex protected by private security, according to the report. It was not immediately clear if the intruders stole anything.

The incident comes amid political tensions between Greece and Turkey over disputed territories in the Aegean Sea and rights to explore for oil and natural gas off ethnically divided Cyprus. 

The Turkish government does not recognise the “Ecumenical” status of the Patriarch and treats the patriarchate as a religious institution serving only Turkey’s Greek Orthodox community. Bartholomew is regarded internationally as the representative and spiritual leader of 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians.