Modest Holy Cross Mass Attracts Few

AKHTAMAR (Combined Sources)—With no cross atop its dome, no belfry or tolling bells and a makeshift altar, the much-touted and controversial Mass took place Sunday at Holy Cross Church, officiated by the Istanbul Patriarchate’s Archbishop Aram Ateshyan.

Thousands of Armenians who had planned a pilgrimage stayed away from the scheduled Mass after Turkish officials refused to place a cross atop the dome and the general sentiment that the Mass was a propaganda ploy by the Turkish government.

The Holy See of Etchmiadzin and the Great House of Cilicia boycotted the event, the latter citing the blatant political charade by the Turkish government and the former citing the absence of the cross in a reversal of an earlier decision to send a delegation.

With bell chimes broadcast through a loud speaker, several hundred parishioners and Turkish government officials gathered at Holy Cross for what was originally seen as a historic Mass in a historic church. Most of the parishioners attending the Mass were Armenians from Istanbul, according to Turkish media reports.

No high-level Turkish government officials attended the ceremony and the church, which was deemed too small, was filled with local officials and guests, while most parishioners gathered outside the church to witness the Mass, which was the first held at that church in 95 years.

“Turkey failed to reach its objective because of its missteps in recent times,” said Giro Manoyan the political director of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

Manoyan pointed to recent Western media reports and cited CNN and BBC reports, which clearly stated that Turkey intentionally avoided opening Holy Cross as a church since in fears that Armenians would lay claims on lands and territory.

He urged the Armenian church leaders in Turkey to press for more religious ceremonies at Akhtamar, because, as Manoyan explained, by granting permission for Sunday’s Mass, the Turkish government claimed the Holy Cross church as its property.

Manoyan also called on Armenian authorities to clarify to the international community that the Turkish government’s “permission” for the Mass was done more as a gesture—appeasement—to its national minorities than it was a concession to Armenia.

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8 Comments

  1. Satenik said:

    A Turkish ploy to “prove” to the EU that she is doing her best for her christian minorities. No one is buying this and Turkey has to wait a long long time to be even considered for the EU membership.

  2. Norin Radd said:

    Turkey is not civilized enough yet to join the EU, only after they lift their illegal blockade against Armenia and withdraw from Cyprus and admit to their past crimes of Genocide against Armenians during WW I will they be allowed into the EU.

    Europeans despise them, and with Greece officially part of the EU, it’s difficult to fathom how Turkey can ever gain membership into the EU given its track record and image. In the meanwhile, Israel and the US will continue to use Turkey as an “ally” like a little lap dog . . . not to mention all of those Turkish women are great fun for our good old American GI’s! They love Turkey’s young girls!

  3. Chris Manougian said:

    About time for the Turks to realize that Armenians should go back to their lands ,and its good we have lots of proofs to show that .Gods will we shall liberate every inch .

  4. Dave said:

    Let’s suppose that the Turkish government renovates, say, an old Armenian house in Van or Erzerum, and asks Armenian clergy to hold a service to bless it and invites Armenians around the world to attend.

    The same naive Armenians who went to Aghtamar are going to flock to the house with the excuse that “Well, we should go because at least the Turks are doing SOMETHING to show that they have no hard feelings toward us.”

    In other words, every time the Turks renovate something Armenian for the next 100 years, Armenians are going to journey to Turkey to join in the celebration? This is what dummies we are.

  5. Stepan said:

    There is good news in this despicable Turkish ploy. First their attempt to gain a public relations win at our expense failed. Most of the news services, blogs, internet sites and other posts amply covered the storyline of the Armenians boycott due to the Turks reneging on the cross. We all know that the issue is much more complicated, but to win the minds of the neutral third parties(“the public”), it was really a matter of Turkish tolerance and goodwill to Armenians(the Turkish position) verses the museum not a church and betrayal on the cross issue( the Armenian position). I think we won that one.
    Now is the time to press the Turks for the …1. installation of the cross 2. reconsecration of the church. 3. install a proper altar 4. return this stolen property to the Armenian church5. open this church to worshipers year round to pilgrimages.
    In addition to the spiritual significance of this issue, it is happeniing in western Armenia. What an opportunity!! The other piece of good news is the unity displayed by the Armenian community… gov’t, Antelias,Etchmiadzin, Jerusalem and the travel industry. Bravo. Build momentum!!

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