The written permission was finally given yesterday, on August 11, by the Prefect of Trabzon and the competent Turkish authorities to celebrate the Divine Liturgy at the Panagia Soumela Monastery in Trabzon, according to an announcement published by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Read the full announcement of the Ecumenical Patriarchate below:
“We are happy to announce that today, on Friday morning, August 11, we received the written permission to celebrate the Divine Liturgy at the Panagia Soumela Monastery. We would like to thank the Prefect of Trabzon and the competent goverment authorities which signed the permission.”
It is recalled that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke harshly yesterday against the Turkish authorities from the Church of the Panagia Koumariotissa, in Nichori.
The Ecumenical Patriarch revealed that the Turkish authorities had not sent written permission to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to celebrate the Divine Liturgy at the Soumela Monastery in Trabzon on August 15.
“Until now, we have not received written permission, but only verbal messages, after the receipt of which we made an announcement and said that the liturgy will take place this year in Panagia Soumela,” he stressed.
It is recalled that he also stated that in the reactions after the announcement of the decision, there was a deputy of a small, new party, who submitted a question to the Parliament in Ankara, reacting and protesting about the Ecumenical Patriarch’s visit to Trabzon for the Dormition of the Theotokos and the Divine Liturgy he will perform there.
Moreover, the Ecumenical Patriarch continued: “The MP said that this operation violates the Treaty of Lausanne. How is that possible? Lausanne says other things too. For my homeland, Imbros, and more broadly for our interests. For our right to theological education, Halki remains closed. Lausanne says things we lack, they didn’t give them to us. And the MP comes to tell us that we are violating the Treaty of Lausanne.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch referred yesterday to another publication that stressed that August 15 is the anniversary of the conquest of Trabzon by the Ottomans and recalled that in 2010 the then Turkish Minister of Culture asked him why he wanted to be in Trabzon on this day, with Bartholomew explaining that we celebrate the Dormition of the Virgin Mary and that there is no intention to interfere in politics.
The Ecumenical Patriarch also stated yesterday that at the beginning of his Patriarchy, in the 1990s, the cemetery in Nichori had been desecrated and the graves had been opened by throwing out the bones of the dead.
“I was angry, I was very sad. I came here, presided over the Divine Liturgy, and delivered a fiery, bold speech. But when you tell the truth and reality, you can be bold and not afraid.
Since then, I have spoken many times about the injustices done to us, without forgetting to be grateful and praise both the good and the positive that we enjoy. I wish we only had pleasant situations. And it would be pleasant if the laws were observed and if there was no discrimination.”
He also referred to a timely incident, as a journalist was to present a report in Imbros on the events in Imbros and Tenedos in 1964, from which Imbros had been emptied of the Greek element (according to Bartholomew, Imbros at the time numbered 7,000 Christians, Greeks. And after 1964 they became 300).
“They forbade the girl to make the exhibition, which would take place in a few days because they say we can’t talk about what was happening in the 1960s. It shouldn’t have happened! Why be ashamed to face reality. We have to come to terms with history, with our past. We must call a spade a spade. And as the Gospel says, yes, is yes, and no, is no.
They do not let us enjoy the joy of the service in Panagia Soumela Monastery. Why not? These are such simple things. Let’s go for a few hours to pray according to our faith, according to our religion and we will return to our homes. Not even a day, just for a few hours.”