Oldest Functioning Monastery in the World may be Closed by Turkey

The oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world, dedicated to St. Gabriel, dates to the fifth century and lies in Turkey, near the Syrian border.  The area was once heavily populated by Christians, but ethnic and religious fighting has reduced the local population to about 3,500.  Tribal chiefs from local Muslim villages have now sued to claim monastery lands, including the land on which the monastery was built.  Part of their claim is that the monastery was built over a mosque, something that should raise the eyebrows of anyone with any historical sense, given that Mohammad was born quite a bit AFTER the founding of the monastery.

I have written before about efforts to place some political pressure on Turkey’s gov’t to grant religious freedoms for our Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul/Constantinople.  North Dakota joined nearly every other state in the union to pass a resolution asking our State Department to apply such pressure.  A main sticking point has been reopening properties improperly confiscated.

Hopefully, the European Union will step in and help in this situation.  We may believe in freedom of religion here in America, at least to a greater degree than most, but not all of our allies share such values and in certain places in the world, Orthodox Christians find themselves in the crosshairs of such disputes.

To read the full article on this, go here:

http://ansamed.ansa.it/ansamed/en/news/sections/generalnews/2012/07/12/Turkey-Oldest-Christian-monastery-risk_7176199.html

[Credit to John over at the blog, Ad Orientem for bringing my attention to this.  His blog may be seen here:

http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com/ and is listed in the blogs to the right.]

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