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The ROC is glad for the resumption of services at the monastery of Panagia Sumela in Turkey

In the Russian Orthodox Church will rejoice over the resumption of worship after the restoration of the Orthodox monastery of Sumela in Turkey, although to bless the faithful pilgrimage to the ancient abode will be possible only after the restoration of Eucharistic communion with Constantinople, said RIA Novosti Deputy head of the Department for external Church relations (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate Archpriest Nikolai Balashov.

This week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country protects the cultural heritage of Christianity, citing as example the restoration of one of the world's oldest Orthodox monasteries of Panagia Sumela in Trabzon province in northeast Turkey. Patriarch Bartholomew thanked on the phone to Erdogan for the restoration of the monastery, which was due to open after restoration.

Commenting to RIA Novosti this event, Archpriest Nikolay Balashov reminded that the divine services on the feast of the assumption of the virgin in the monastery of Panagia Sumela, interrupted after closing and looting in 1922, was resumed in 2010 after the visit of Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill in Turkey, which took place a year earlier.

"That worship there were possible at least once a year, - the great merit of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia. In truth, when the topic in 2009 was affected by the conversation between the two primates, Patriarch Bartholomew has expressed serious doubts that it is possible that it will be possible to get permission, and even shared concerns that the very posing of such a question could bring trouble on Fanar by the Turkish authorities. However, with caution and delicacy were carried out the necessary negotiations with the Turkish representatives," said the priest.

He recalled that in 2009, Patriarch Kirill visited not only Istanbul but also Ankara and met with Erdogan (then Prime Minister of Turkey) and other Turkish government officials. Then followed one after the other three pilgrimage for the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church in the ancient Trabzon with a visit to the monastery of Panagia Sumela. Finally, in August 2010, Turkish authorities allowed to hold in the monastery the celebratory Liturgy, which came to several thousands of believers from Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other countries.

According to Balashov, dominated by pilgrims from Russia, however, believers from Greece was invited to many, and the Russian, the Greeks paid, in particular, a major role was played by the Deputy of the state Duma Ivan Savvidi. The service was then headed by Patriarch Bartholomew, who was assisted by the Russian Bishop - Bishop Tikhon of Podolsk, and was attended by the Secretary of the DECR priest Igor Yakimchuk.

This Liturgy, said father Nicholas, became possible as a result of agreements entered into by the Department for external Church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate with the Ministry of culture and tourism of the Turkish Republic and the leadership of the Trabzon province. Was also attended by Russian officials - deputies of the Duma, Consul General in Trabzon.

"Then the Patriarch Bartholomew warmly thanked Patriarch Kirill said at a meeting held on the historic Liturgy, he also participated through his representative, Bishop Tikhon and his companions. Expressed the hope that such worship will continue to be committed that they will be able to participate personally, Patriarch Kirill and other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church. But the next year Bishop of our Church, arrived on the day of the assumption (by the new calendar) for the concelebration with Patriarch Bartholomew, had no place among the participants of the service in the monastery of Panagia Sumela - Patriarch Bartholomew said that wanting too much, and space is tight, and offered to pray on the sidelines," - said Balashov.

After that, he said, the Russian Church did not send its representatives, "not to burden", but they didn't invite more. "Thanks to Russian brothers were soon forgotten, as more than once before happened in history", - noted the Agency interlocutor, adding that further into the Moscow Patriarchate followed the situation around Panagia Sumela only according to media reports.

"Sorry, of course, that in 2015, the tradition of annual religious services ceased with the closure of the convent in repair. If they will be restored to rejoice over the faith of the Greeks. But again, at least to bless our laity pilgrimage to this ancient monastery will not be able to until will not resume our fellowship with the Church of Constantinople, interrupted because of the invasion of the non-canonical Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine", - said the Deputy head of the DECR.

Overall, he said, "it is with profound sorrow and trouble that the Orthodox actions of the Primate of Constantinople was divided". According to father Nicholas, in the Western media about Patriarch Bartholomew still inertia's writing that he "spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox around the world." It never was true, admitted the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, since each local Church is headed by its Primate, but the Patriarch Bartholomew were the first among equal primates of local Orthodox churches, he presided at the pan-Orthodox meetings and was in first place at every joint Ministry of the Churches.

As previously reported by the Church of Constantinople, the Patriarchal divine Liturgy in the Dormition of the Holy virgin in the monastery of Panagia Sumela in this year will not take place because of the ban of the Turkish authorities in connection with the pandemic coronavirus.

Sumela - inactive Orthodox monastery of Orthodox Church of Constantinople, built at the end of IV – beginning of V century, is located in the province of Trabzon in North East Turkey. He is one of the oldest in the world and claims for inclusion in the world heritage list of UNESCO.