Turkey Won't Have The Cross Atop Armenian Church For Historic Liturgy

Armen Hareyan's picture

It is apparent that Turkey will not have the cross atop the Armenian church for the September 19 historic liturgy in Van's Akhtamar island. Now the authorities try to put the responsibility on local Armenian monks.

"Clergymen from the Armenian Patriarchate from ─░stanbul are to decide where to temporarily display the cross, in or outside the church, until it is erected on the church after the service when preparations are complete," Today's Zaman reports.

Armenian side maintains that neither inside nor outside is not a solution. If Turkey is sincere in returning the Armenian churches to their owners it needs to respect the religious rights of Christians and their traditions by allowing to put a cross on top of churches.

Coincidentally, in November of 2009 Turkish media protested the Swiss minaret ban. In fact, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined his voice to a chorus of international criticism of Switzerland's ban on minarets, saying the Swiss ban reflects an increasingly racist and fascist stance in Europe.

Today, of course, many Armenian and Greek churches in Turkey are turned into state museums, including the Hagia Sophia, which was once the pride of the entire Christendom.

Before the "cross controversy" many people in and outside of Turkey had believed that the reopening of the Armenian church in Eastern Turkey could be a start of a new era between the two people. After Turkey revealed last week that it will not have cross on the top of the church before Sept. 19 "due to technical reasons," the top three hierarchical sees of the Armenian church and thousands of tourists canceled their reservations to participate in the pilgrimage to this church, where the last time corporate prayer was heard 100 years ago before the Armenian Genocide.

Whether ironically or providentially, the name of the church in Van is Holly Cross.

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