Turkey: Orthodox Christians gather for rare Mass at ancient site after government approvalBy AP
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Turkey: patriarch holds historic Mass
MACKA, Turkey — Orthodox Christians are holding a rare Mass at an ancient monastery in Turkey after the government allowed worship there once a year in a gradual loosening of restrictions on religious expression.
Sunday’s service at the Byzantine-era monastery of Sumela near the Black Sea is being led by Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians. Pilgrims from Greece, Russia and other countries traveled to the monastery, which is built into the side of a mountain.
Turkey’s government is seeking to improve the lot of ethnic and religious minorities in line with its bid to join the European Union. Activists say the change is too slow. A key Orthodox Christian demand is the reopening of the Halki Theological School near Istanbul.
Tags: Europe, Macka, Middle East, Religious Issues, Turkey, Western Europe