Pontian outrage as Turkey cancels August 15 church service at Panayia Soumela

Source: Greek City Times

August 11, 2016

The Turkish government has forbidden the annual church
service at Panayia Soumela to proceed ahead of the Feast
Day of August 15th, outraging Pontian Greeks and all
Greeks around the world.

Panayia Soumela is a Greek Orthodox monastery dedicated to
the Virgin Mary at Melá Mountain within the Pontic
Mountains range, in Trabzon, Turkey.

According to the church news service dogma.gr the official
explanation given by Turkish authorities was that the
annual liturgy could not proceed due to maintenance and
conservation work carried out at the famed monastery.

Patriarchal sources however say this is merely a pretext
by Turkey to permanently ban any future liturgies taking
place.

The historic monastery held its first liturgy in June of
2010 after 88 years, with permission granted by the
Turkish government at the time, with the Ecumenical
Patriarch presiding over the liturgy in honour of the
Virgin Mary in whose name the monastery was named.

The reactions from political circles in Greece were swift
with the opposition party of New Democracy protesting over
the assault of religious freedom.

“Unfortunately it would appear that Orthodoxy will
not celebrate the grand feast day of August 15th in honour
of the Pontians’ beloved Panayia
Soumela’’ said Dora Bakoyiannia in a
statement.

Many have noted that this infringement on Orthodoxy is not
a coincidence given recent events in the church of Ayia
Sofia where the Koran was recited with the blessings of
the Turkish government, a gesture that was regarded as an
affront to Christian Orthodoxy.

The monastery of Panayia Soumela, has been a symbol of the
Greek Pontian community around the world for more than 16
centuries.

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