Greek Synod condemns Turkish blasphemy at ancient monastery

Athens, February 9, 2022     

The hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece condemn the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s blasphemous filming of an ancient monastery as a nightclub for a tourism advertisement.

As OrthoChristian reported on Monday, a clip from the making of the ad shows a DJ playing loud electronic music in the Panagia Sumela Monastery courtyard with people dancing while the church bells ring.

Meeting under the chairmanship of Archbishop Ieronymos in Athens today, the Greek Synod “expresses its strong protest against the desecration of the sacred site of the historic monastery on the basis of permission given by the Turkish authorities, during a period when the holy monastery is closed and visits are prohibited due to restoration works and other support works,” reports Romfea.

The monastery was founded in 386 by the Athenian monks Barnabas and Sophronius after a revelation of the Theotokos. The monastery built to be the home of the wonderworking Sumela Icon, painted by St. Luke the Evangelist, the Synod recalls.

Since then, it has been a spiritual center for Pontian Hellenism. However, in the 100 years since the genocide and uprooting of Pontic Greeks, the Liturgy has rarely been served there, while the Turkish authorities allow the site to remain open as a tourist attraction.

For the state of Turkey to now allow the monastery to be used as a dance hall “is an insult and desecration of the character of this religious and historical monument,” the Synod protests, despite excuses that the advertisement is just meant to promote tourism.

The abuse of the monastery “provoked the dissatisfaction and strong reaction of even the locals,” the Synod emphasizes. Likewise, the Synod expresses its own disappointment and intense protest, condemning the filming of the advertisement as “another action of the Turkish authorities at the expense of a monument of world cultural heritage.”

“This action brutally offends … the religious sensibilities of the Pontic Greeks,” the Synod states.

The profanation of the monastery was also protested by Patriarch Bartholomew in a letter and phone call to the Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism. OrthoChristian also reported on the protest of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Russian Church’s Department for External Church Relations, on Monday.

Greek officials have also protested the actions of the Turkish state.

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