ISTANBUL (Public Radio of Armenia) — Acting Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul Aram Ateshian has restrained the importance of the permission to celebrate Masses more frequently in the Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on Akhtamar Island in Lake Van.
He said they are only able to hold a religious service only once a year due to the decreased number of participants and the situation in the region. He reminded that the September Mass was cancelled due to the armed clashes in the region.
“People will hardly be able to come here more than once a year. The number of participants went down from 1,000 to 500 in the past years. This decision brings no change for us. However, if some group arrives from abroad and asks for a Mass, we’ll be able to use this right,” the Acting Patriarch said. He added that in any case the annual Mass will be celebrated every year in the second week of September.
Since the region is under such complicated circumstances and the number of participants attending church has decreased, the permission to hold Mass more often at the church on Akhtamar Island will not have great impacts on the community.
The Turkish government had allowed Mass to be celebrated at the church on Akhtamar Island for the first time in 95 years in 2010. Since then, the Armenian Church of the Holy Cross was looking into the feasibility of holding Mass at the church frequently.
As a result, the church found out that it had to apply for permission and go through a process in order to hold religious services.
This was discovered after Turkish reports revealed that the Turkish government plans to increase fundamental rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Turkey.