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.