Soumela Monastery mass going ahead after initial Turkish refusal

Soumela Monastery mass going ahead after initial Turkish refusal

People gather for a mass held on August 15 last year by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Soumela to mark the Dormition of the Mother of God in Turkey’s Trabzon region, known to Greeks as Trapezounta. After initially not allowing the service to go ahead this year, Turkish authorities had a change of heart to the satisfaction of  Pontic Greeks and Christians around the world. It was not clear why the Turkish Culture Ministry revised its decision. According to reports, permission for the August 15 mass at the monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate and an important site for Christians worldwide, will from now on depend on the course of Greek-Turkish relations. In any case, the pilgrims will pray in a safer setting this year, following the completion of restoration work. [Emrah Gurel/AP]

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