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Erdogan reopens historical Soumela Monastery for divine liturgy

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The Ecumenical Patriarch announced on Wednesday that a church service will be conducted on the holiday of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (August 15) at the Monastery of Panagia Soumela in Turkey.

The Greek Orthodox edifice was closed for five years undergoing renovations, but was reopened on Tuesday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a videoconference ceremony.

During the ceremony, Erdogan confirmed Orthodox citizens would again be able to attend the Divine Liturgy of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15 at the monastery.

In an apparent response to universal criticism of his decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque, Erdogan added: “if Turkey was disrespectful toward different cultures, as some Western nations claim, it would not have restored and preserved such historical artifacts.”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke with Turkey’s President Erdogan over the phone.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew confirmed the news in a press release on Wednesday.

Bartholomew said he had spoken on the phone with Erdogan on Tuesday, during which the Patriarch thanked him for the “systematic renovation at the monastery,” and expressed his best wishes over the Kurban Bayrami holiday.

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