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December 2007

Turkish Forestry Officials Vandalize Historic Church

In response to unlawful destruction of an historic Orthodox Christian Church by eight officials of a local Ministry of Forestry in Turkey, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent an official letter to Mevlut Kurban, the District Elder of Princess Islands, expressing his "strong disappointment and shock." He also emphasized that Christ the Savior Monastery "had survived numerous fires and earthquakes throughout hundreds of years. It is uncivil to brutalize a sacred building that carries so much cultural history, and unjust to destroy it, especially when Istanbul (Constantinople) has been picked to be the capital of civilized Europe in 2010."

Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew (Archons,) condemned the illegal actions of Turkey's Forestry officials and called the authorities "to put an end to the incessant harassment of the humble caretaker and workers who live on the Monastery's property." He also emphasized that the Archons in America are strong advocates for Turkey's admission into the European Union and asked that all friends of Turkey urge the government to "treat all Turkish citizens equally and fairly, regardless of their religious persuasion... Muslim, Jewish, or Christian."

The Monastery, which is undergoing renovation due to a generous grant from Dr. Stephen and Dr. Anna Yallourakis of Kingsport, TN, was vandalized on Tuesday, November 13, 2007. Local government officials removed and threw away roof tile, broke all the windows and destroyed the window frames. The officials threatened the residents and demanded that they abandon their homes because the houses were being demolished. Dr. Yallourakis remarked, "We here in the U.S. enjoy all of our freedoms and believe all people should enjoy basic unalienable rights... We pray for a positive resolution to this tragic event and anxiously await the repair of the damage which has destroyed our beloved Monastery.”

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