Bartholomew sent a letter to the Turkish authorities protesting the desecration of Panagia Sumela

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent a letter of protest to Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy in connection with the desecration of Panagia Sumela.

The Patriarch protests against insulting the “Panagia Sumela Trebizond Patriarchal and Stauropegial Monastery, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is the main shrine of the Pontic people, as well as a monument of world religious and cultural heritage that has no analogues in history.”

Sumela Monastery today functions as a museum. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey is responsible for its good management and all kinds of protection.

Many years ago, on New Year’s Eve, in a similar case of insulting the Hagia Sophia, which then functioned as a museum, His Holiness sent a strong protest to the then competent Minister, who hastened to resume the unacceptable action, canceling the corresponding permit.

Question to the European Commission

Meanwhile, Greek and Cypriot MEPs from the EPP (ND and DISY), at the initiative of the Vice President and Chairman of the EPP in the European Parliament, Vangelis Meimarakis, submitted a request to the European Commission “about the desecration of Panagia Sumela by Turkish citizens who arranged dances in an advertising tourist video.”

The Greek and Cypriot MEPs emphasize that “these offensive images, made with the permission of the Turkish authorities in a sanctuary with a 16-century history and a candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage List, are a disrespect for the sanctity of this place and an insult to Pontic Hellenism, as well as Orthodox Christians around the world “.

The Russian Orthodox Church was the first to pay attention to the shooting of the video.

“The ROC expresses its protest against the party held in the Turkish monastery of Panagia Sumela, in Trabzon in the east of the country, which was a ‘desecration of the Orthodox shrine’,” Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the department for external church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, said on the website of the ROC.

“Today, the religious world in the country is again compromised: in the main historical shrine of the Pontic Greeks, the monastery of Panagia Sumela in Trebizond, local authorities allowed a disco. They say this was done to attract tourists,” Hilarion said.

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate

The metropolitan expressed confidence that tourists from Russia – who, according to him, are in the majority in the country – would not like “such a cynical trampling of the Christian shrine.” At the same time, Hilarion noted that local residents and representatives of the tourism sector protested because of what had happened. “In Russia, such an attitude towards a temple or a mosque leads to the punishment of those responsible,” he said.

Hilarion said that the Russian Orthodox Church made a lot of efforts to ensure that pilgrims and priests could get into “this once glorious monastery” for worship. “We express our categorical protest against the desecration of Orthodox shrines in Turkey. We hope that its state leadership, especially in light of the strengthening of Russian-Turkish relations, will not turn a blind eye to this outrageous case,” Illarion added.

Greek Foreign Minister: “The sight of the desecration of Panagia Sumela is offensive.”

“Recent images posted on social media of a Turkish group having a disco in the area of ​​the historic monastery of Panagia Sumela are a desecration of this UNESCO World Heritage Candidate Monument,” the statement said. statement posted on the website Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece.

In the ministry note: it is surprising that permission was given for the complex in question, since the monastery of Panagia Sumela is only open for pilgrimage purposes. “These images are offensive and add to a series of actions by the Turkish authorities against World Heritage sites. We call on the competent Turkish authorities to take appropriate measures so that such acts are not repeated and that the holy site of the monastery is respected.”

The Turkish authorities have not yet reacted to the incident.

Protest of the Greek Church

The work of the next meeting of the Permanent Holy Synod of the Greek Church ended with a strong protest statement over the situation with Panagia Sumela.

According to the Synod, due to the fact that last week the ancient Holy Monastery of Panagia Sumela in Trabzon was used as a setting for a music video by a group of thirty people, consisting of dancers and sound and image specialists, who sang and danced to the sound of the bell , The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church strongly protests against the desecration of the shrine of the historic monastery on the basis of a permit issued by the Turkish authorities, at a time when the Holy Monastery is closed and visits are prohibited due to restoration and other auxiliary work.

The Holy Monastery of Panagia Sumela was founded in 386 AD by the Athenian monks Barnabas and Sophronius after the appearance of the Virgin Mary, in order to install Her miraculous image there, which, according to legend, is the work of the evangelist Luke. Since then, this place has been the center of worship of Pontic Hellenism and not only, since believers from all over the world gathered here for fifteen centuries to worship the holy image of the Virgin Mary and other sacred relics stored there, and it has a special cult significance. For a whole century, after the genocide and the extermination of the Greeks of Pontus, sacred Liturgies have not been held.

The decision of the Turkish institutions to transfer the use of the territory of the Holy Monastery to a musical group is an insult and an insult to the nature of this religious and historical monument. The justification of the actors that the video was filmed there in order to promote Panagia Sumela as a tourist site is considered unacceptable, caused discontent and a sharp reaction even from local residents who love and respect the monument.

The Permanent Holy Synod of the Church of Greece expresses its disappointment, its resolute protest and its reflections on the fact that after the transformation into mosques of the churches of Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, Hagia Sophia of Trebizond and the Monastery of Chora, the Monastery of Panagia Sumela, and in fact in the very place where annually 15 August, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch – another action of the Turkish authorities towards the monument of world cultural heritage.

This action severely offends not only the religious sensibilities of the Pontian Greeks, but also the international notion of respecting and protecting religious and historical monuments from any attempt to change their character.

However, it is worth noting the hypocrisy and inconsistency on the part of some political websites and media: to protest against such insults to Christian monuments in Turkey, while at the same time justifying, as a sign of progressiveness, similar and worse public insults against extremists.

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