Permission Denied for 'Blessing of the Waters' Rite in Izmir

Turkish authorities on Saturday, Epiphany Day, did not allow the "Blessing of the Waters" religious ceremony to take place at Izmir port, an annual rite that was carried out by the Orthodox Church last year in line with the implementation of an announcement by Turkey's foreign ministry allowing and protecting the exercise of religious ceremonies by minorities living in the country.

Last year, the Greek consul in Izmir, Georgios Katapodis, organised an Epiphany Day celebration, the first time since the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey in 1922 and 1923.

This year, the Greek consul again asked for the Izmir's prefect's permission for the specific religious ceremony to be held. The answer given stated that "the permit cannot be given because the request was not submitted in writing but only verbally."

The Epiphany Day ceremony in Izmir was held in the courtyard of the Greek Orthodox chapel of Aghia (St.) Fotini by Ecumenical Patriarchate Archimandrite Kyrillos Sykis.

Meanwhile, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Sunday received pilgrims who attended the Epiphany Day celebration at his Fanar district office.

(Posting date 24 January 2007)

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