ISTANBUL – Daily News with wires
Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew made courtesy visits to the governor and mayor of Nevşehir to thank them for hosting an annual dividne liturgy in the province over the weekend.
Konstantinos Eleni Church in Mustafapaşa in Ürgüp district and Saint Teodoris Church in Derinkuyu district, where the liturgies were held on Saturday and Sunday, are normally closed to worship.
However, prayer is allowed once a year for ceremonies with special permission. The patriarch first visited Gov. Osman Aydın and then Mayor Hasan Ünver, expressing his happiness at being in Cappadocia.
Meanwhile, two members of the Alperen Ocakları, the youth group of the nationalist Great Union Party, or BBP, protested Bartholomew’s visit with a banner.
The patriarch appeared on a TV show on a U.S. network CBS last year saying he felt “crucified in Turkey” for not having enough religious freedom.
Receiving great criticism after the interview, he said his comments were not planned and that the media had over-emphasized the quote.
He said the comments were a metaphor for detailing Greeks’ problems in Turkey, highlighted by the issue of the Halki seminary’s being located on Heybeliada, one of Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara.
The banner the two youths held in front of the municipality building read, “You said I feel crucified. You are at a ceremony in Cappadocia. You lied. Alperens from Nevşehir.”
The two members of the Alperen Ocakları then left the scene without incident. The Greek Orthodox patriarch left Nevşehir to return to Istanbul on Monday.