A world church leader has responded with "strong disappointment and shock" to what he says is the unlawful recent destruction of an historic Orthodox Christian Church by eight officials of a local Ministry of Forestry in Turkey.
Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has sent an official letter of complaint to Mevlut Kurban, the District Elder of Princess Islands, about the issue.
The Ecumenical Patriarch emphasized that Christ the Saviour Monastery "had survived numerous fires and earthquakes throughout hundreds of years. In is uncivil to brutalize a sacred building that carries so much cultural history, and unjust to destroy it, especially when Istanbul has been picked to be the capital of civilized Europe in 2010."
Dr Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew, condemned the actions of Turkey's forestry officials.
He declared: "On behalf of all peoples of faith who value religious freedom, basic human rights and the dignity of every human being, we call upon the government of Turkey to stop immediately the destruction of this historic Monastery and to put an end to the incessant harassment of the humble caretaker and workers who live on the Monastery's property."
Dr Limberakis 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 Chriistian."
The Monastery, which is undergoing renovation, was vandalized on Tuesday 13 November 2007 says its supporters.
Local government officials removed and threw away roof tile, broke all the windows and destroyed the window frames. The officials allegedly threatened the residents and demanded that they abandon their homes because the houses were being demolished.
Dr Yallourakis remarked" "We here in the US enjoy all of our freedoms and believe all people should enjoy basic unalienable rights given to us by our Creator. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, founded by the Apostle Andrew, is the Sacred See for 250 million Orthodox Christians around the world. We pray for a positive resolution to this tragic event and anxiously await the repair of the damage which has destroyed our beloved Monastery."