Hristos Monastery in Heybeliada is emptied because it is located on forest land. It has been demanded that the monastery is given to Greek society in Turkey, but there is still no response.
Hristos Monastery in Heybeliada has been emptied by Department of Forestry on April 5. Since the owner of the building is not specified in the deed, Greek society's legal struggle for the monastery continues. The monastery is one of the places of worship that Greek society in Turkey still uses.
Prof. Elpidoforos Lambriniadis, the principal of Halki Seminary and Metropolitan of Bursa, told about the process:
“In 2007, the Greek society applied for renovation. There wasn't any response to that application; so, the society carried out the renovation work by itself. Department of Forestry stepped in on the ground that the monastery is on forest land and demolished the renovated parts. Greek society and Department of Forestry ended up in court because of the renovation. Both parties had lost the lawsuit. Department of Forestry was punished, because they demolished a historical building. And Greek society was forced to empty the building by a court order.
Within the last 2 years, a Greek local of Heybeliada moved to the monastery and started to take care of the maintenance works. After that, the Greek society applied to General Directorate of Foundation for taking the building back. Before any response was received, Department of Forestry, basing on the court order, demanded the building is emptied. On April 5, it was emptied.”
Lambriniadis added: “This is a place of worship. Since it is demolished, the ceremonies are held outside. They don't permit renovation. We don't get any response for our demand of return, which is our right. Now, all we have is a demolished church.”
“We feel sorry”
Ecumenical Patriarchate made a statement about this issue. Reminding the legal process, the Patriarchate stated that they feel sorry and will meet the officials in Ankara about this issue.