Council of Europe hails Turkey’s decision to build a church in Istanbul
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Bartholomew I performs a mass for Christmas on Jan. 6, which is celebrated by Orthodox Christians across the world.The Council of Europe has hailed Turkey’s decision to allow the building of a new church for the Syriac community in Istanbul, which will be the first new church to be built in the country in nearly a century.
“The Council of Europe welcomes Turkey’s decision to permit a newly built Christian church in Istanbul as sign of diversity,” wrote Daniel Holtgen, spokesperson for the secretary general of the Council of Europe, said via his Twitter account on Jan. 7.
The church will serve the tiny Syriac community in Turkey and will be built in the Istanbul suburb of Yeşilköy on the shores of the Sea of Marmara, which already hosts a number of old Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic churches.
The state will allocate an area for the construction of the church, officials from the Prime Ministry stated on Jan. 2.
“It is the first [new church] since the creation of the republic [in 1923]. Churches have been restored and reopened to the public, but no new church has been built until now,” a government source told AFP.
The announcement came after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met Turkey’s religious leaders in Istanbul on Jan. 2, during which he said “no faith that has lived in this country could be regarded as foreign.”
The religious representatives and the prime minister discussed a number of issues during the meeting, with Davutoğlu emphasizing “unity” during his speech.
“All [representatives] are equal and real citizens of the Republic of Turkey,” he said.
Davutoğlu also invited the religious leaders for a New Year’s meal at the Prime Ministry’s office.