The doors of the Sumela Monastery reopened in June 2010, after 88 years. The Turkish government had given permission to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to have a patriarchal liturgy for the Feast of the Assumption every year. That permission has been suddenly revoked, perhaps permanently.
That the Greek Orthodox need special permission to celebrate divine services in any of their churches in what is now Turkey is a dark reminder of the Islamic oppression of Eastern Christians from the mid-7th century to today, and for the Greeks, especially from the Muslim conquest of Constantinople in 1453 through the defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the Western Powers during World War I.
For background, here is an excerpt from my article, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Assassination Plot in Historical Context:
Ever since the Fall of Constantinople to the Muslim armies in 1453, Christians in what is now Turkey have been reduced to second-class citizens (and persecuted nearly to extinction) through the institution of the dhimma, the contract of protection which subjugates Christians to Muslim rule under humiliating, demeaning terms.
Under the dhimma, Christians have to pay the exorbitant jizya tax, cannot build new churches, cannot repair existing ones, cannot share their faith outside their church buildings, cannot convert Muslims, etc. One aspect of the dhimma most terrifying is the concept of “collective punishment.” If one Christian violates the dhimma contract, Muslims may attack any or all Christians…
Important to keep in mind is the role played not only by the faithful Patriarch Martyrs, but by other clergy and even monastics in the eventual liberation of Greece [in the early 19th century]… Eventually, the Serbs and Bulgarians threw off the Muslim yoke as well.
It was this series of humiliating defeats during the nineteenth century, and losses in the Balkan Wars of the early twentieth century, which enraged the Turkish Muslims, who turned on the weakest elements of their Christian population, precipitating their infamous genocide against the Christians of Armenia, Greece, Pontus, and Syria, massacring over 3.6 million men, women and children (some dying from starvation, disease and the forced deportations) from 1894 to 1922.
Sporadic persecutions against remaining Christians extended well into the 1950s, perhaps the worst example being the Istanbul Pogroms of 1955, which dealt a crushing blow to the Orthodox Christian community in Turkey.
The Greek population of Turkey had already been reduced to about 120,000 in 1927 (following the main period of the Orthodox Christian Genocide); by 1978 it had collapsed to only 7,000. According to the Human Rights Watch, by 2006 there were only 2500 Greeks in Turkey.
So, we see that, just as they have done since the 15th century, the Muslim Turks continue to demean and humiliate the Orthodox Christian congregation of Turkey, which they have already persecuted nearly to extinction.
This is the hallmark of classic Islam.
“Turkish Authorities Ban Christian Liturgy in Panagia Sumela Monastery,” by Philip Chrysopoulos, Greek Reporter, August 11, 2016:
Turkish authorities notified the Ecumenical Patriarchate that the license for the yearly mass at Panagia Sumela Monastery in Trabzon is revoked.
After five consecutive years during which it was allowed to have Orthodox Christian divine liturgy on August 15 at Panagia Sumela Monastery in Trabzon, this year the permit was revoked. The official reason given is that during the monastery restoration works, static problems appeared in the building.
The ban has caused great disappointment to thousands of Pontian people worldwide, and people from Greece who had planned to travel to the region these days to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption on August 15.
Sources within the Patriarchate of Constantinople who prefer to remain anonymous and many Pontic Greeks believe that the construction static problems invoked is a pretext and they fear that Christian mass will never be allowed in the historic monastery again.
The doors of the Sumela Monastery reopened in June 2010, after 88 years. The Turkish government had given permission to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to have a patriarchal liturgy for the Feast of the Assumption every year.
The license for the monastery to open its doors to the Christian faithful once a year was permanent. However, at the end of May the Turkish authorities warned the Ecumenical Patriarchate that the license is revoked, and have not clarified whether the revocation will only apply for this year.
Situated on a steep cliff 1,200 meters above sea level and facing the Altındere valley, the monastery is a site of great historical and cultural significance, as well as a major tourist attraction within Altındere National Park.