The government of Turkey abruptly revoked the license for the Annual Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Assumption at Panagia Sumela Monastery in Trabzon on August 15.
On Friday two US representatives and the presiding Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney of New York and Congressman Gus Bilirakis of Florida, sent a letter to Turkish President Erdoğan urging him to reinstate and preserve the Christian traditions at the Panagia Sumela Monastery.
Since the monastery opened in 2010 thousands of Orthodox Christians have made the pilgrimage to the site to celebrate the liturgy each year.
In their letter to President Erdoğan, the US representatives expressed concern that this recent revoking of license for the liturgy might “indicate a policy for banning Christian worship in this space altogether (which is) deeply troubling.”
“Partnership and cooperation on human rights are critical to achieve 21st Century prosperity. With rising violations of freedom of religion or belief around the globe, we must strive to advance this fundamental freedom for everyone everywhere,” they wrote, adding, “we ask that you immediately allow for the celebration of Divine Liturgy at Panagia Sumela Monastery, and work to ensure that the annual Feast of the Assumption mass may take place there in the future.”