Syriacs to regain Mor Gabriel’s land, no move on Halki Seminary in ‘democratization package’

MorGabriel
(“The land of the Mor Gabriel Monastery will return to the monastery’s foundation,” Erdoğan has promised. Hürriyet Photo )

30 September 2013, ISTANBUL – (Hürriyet Daily News): The land of the historic Mor Gabriel Monastery will be returned to the Syriac community in Turkey as part of the “democratization package” announced by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today, while the package fell short of meeting the expectations that the Halki Seminary could be reopened.

“The land of the Mor Gabriel Monastery will return to the monastery’s foundation,” Erdoğan promised today, while declaring a wide range of reforms on democracy.

“In fact, our government has shown a great sensitivity in this issue throughout the [Turkish] Republic’s history and has made serious efforts in return for such rights. We have taken sincere steps with regulations we made about the removal of such injustices in 2003, 2008 and 2011 and we received concrete results. We have returned more than 250 [properties], costing more around 2.5 billion Turkish Liras to the original owners,” said Erdoğan. Erdoğan also said that they would continue to return the properties of minorities without occasioning the suffering of others.

Mor Gabriel is a 1,700-year-old monastery located in Mardin’s Midyat district. In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Office and the villages of Yayvantepe, Çandarlı and Eğlence sued the monastery for allegedly occupying their fields. The court recognized the monastery as an “occupier,” after which the case was brought to the ECHR.

The package, announced by Erdoğan today, however, lacked any development about the reopening of the Halki Greek Orthodox seminary on Istanbul’s Heyebeliada Island, which has been an ongoing point of debate for years.

The reopening of the school has been postponed due to a lack of clarity over its status, as well as the principle of reciprocity with Greece, which has refused to allow Turkish minorities to elect their own religious officials.

On Sept. 12, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said that they would take the necessary steps for the reopening of the Halki Seminary “when certain local and international conditions are constituted.” He also gave signals of solving the Mor Gabriel Monastery issue in the same speech. “We have to apply the law on the matter but an alternative formula could resolve the problem [of Mor Gabriel monastery],” Arınç said.

About SOCMNet

SOCMNet is an internet platform of Malankara Jacobite Syriac Christians (Malankara Jacobite Syrian Christian Church - under the Holy See of the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East.). According to tradition, Christianity in India was established by St. Thomas, who arrived in Malankara (Kerala) from Edessa in A.D. 52. The Church in Malankara has had close ties with the Church in the Near East ever since. The ties between the Church in Malankara and the Near East formalized and strengthen by, when under the leadership of the merchant Thomas of Cana and 72 families (around 400 odd persons comprising men, women and children, reached Cragananore (Kodungalloore). The group consisted of the Bishop Mor Joseph of Edessa as well as some priests and deacons traveled and migrated to India and met Christians there by AD 345. The church in Malankara is an integral part of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church with the Patriarch of Antioch [His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas] as its supreme head. The local head of the church in Malankara is the Catholicose of India [His Beatitude Baselios Thomas I], ordained by and accountable to the Patriarch of Antioch. The web sites in the SOCMNet are not official web sites of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Malankara, even though the Owners, Moderators and Webmasters owe allegiance to the hierarchy of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church. However, opinions and responses of the Church leadership are posted here.
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