CWN - Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople left Turkey just hours before the abortive coup this past weekend, prompting rumors that he had been warned of the attempt of oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But a spokesman said that the Patriarch's travel plans-- to Slovenia, for a vacation-- had been set weeks in advance.
Patriarch Bartholomew heard about the attempted coup soon after arriving in Slovenia, and attempted to fly home immediately. But he could not return, because the would-be rebels had closed Ataturk airport in Istanbul.
The Interfax news agency in Russia has carried reports of the Orthodox Patriarch's last-minute departure from Turkey, along with the explanation from the Constantinople patriarchate. The Russian Orthodox Church, which has vied with the Constantinople patriarchate for leadership of the world's Orthodox churches, may take a special interest in criticism of Patriarch Bartholomew.