Loading
First liturgy in 88 years celebrated at Turkish monastery
Analyst continues to doubt country's commitment to religious freedom
Patriarch Bartholomew I
Patriarch Bartholomew I

.- Last Sunday, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I presided over the first liturgical celebration at the Turkish monastery of Sumela in nearly 90 years. The celebration raises awareness to the ongoing situation concerning religious freedom in the country, according to one Vatican expert.

The celebration took place on Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Dormition of the Mother of God in the Eastern tradition, and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the West. Liturgical celebrations had been prohibited at the monastery since it passed into the hands of the Turkish government in 1922.

The Sumela monastery, with a rich and colorful history dating back to the 4th century, was mostly destroyed at the beginning of the 5th century and was eventually made into a museum and tourist attraction.

For these reasons, Sunday's celebration on the mountainside in front of the partially-rebuilt Greek Orthodox monastery was significant.

The concession made by the Turkish government to allow a religious celebration in a previously "off-limits" site is not the first this month, according to Vatican expert Sandro Magister. On Aug. 5, members of the Syriac Orthodox Church were authorized to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in two recently-renovated churches in the Mardin region.

On Aug. 19, the Armenian Orthodox Church will also be allowed to celebrate the liturgy, with the permission of Turkish authorities, at a church renovated and made into a museum in 2007.

Magister wrote on Aug. 13 that the openness seen in these celebrations should not be mistaken. "The concessions made this August by the government of Ankara," he explained, "are being interpreted as a move on the chessboard of Turkey's problematic entry into the European Union, which is impossible without minimal standards concerning religious freedom."

The government is slow to open the doors to religious freedom, he added, in part because a large number of people, believed to be "secret Christians," are currently registered as Muslims and might come "out into the open."

As it is, last Sunday more than 15,000 people attended the liturgy at the monastery, including representatives from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church, members of parliament from Greece and Russia, Turkish authorities and pilgrims of predominantly Greek and Russian origins.

In an article to mark the occasion on Tuesday, the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper quoted Bartholomew I as expressing hope for the future of Christian relations with the Turkish government.

He said, "Let us pray that Our Lady of Sumela become the guarantor of the peaceful coexistence of the two peoples, Christians and Muslims who are now gathered at this sacred place, a place of pilgrimage for Christians and Turks, and that this our pilgrimage may become a bridge between the two peoples.

"Today it can truly be said that the Black Sea is once again the Good Sea."

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Sep
2

Liturgical Calendar

September 2, 2014

Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 4:31-37

Gospel
Date
09/02/14
09/01/14
08/31/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: 1 Cor 2:10B-16
Gospel:: Lk 4:31-37

Saint of the Day

Martyrs of September »

Saint
Date
08/31/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 4:31-37

Homily
Date
09/02/14
09/01/14
08/31/14
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: