FSPC President meets with the abbot of the beleaguered Mor Gabriel Monastery in Turkey

The Council President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, Gottfried Locher, has again shown a sign of solidarity with persecuted Christians. Following his call for the protection of persecuted Christians in Turkey and his letter to the Turkish embassy, on Thursday, he met with Archbishop Timotheos, head of the church and abbot of the beleaguered Mor Gabriel Monastery. As a gesture of solidarity, the Reformed churches of Zurich and Thurgau will pay part of the legal fees due today.

Archbishop Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas, who is both the head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of the Tur Abdin Diocese and abbot of the Mor Gabriel Monastery, came to Switzerland, upon the invitation of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) and the Reformed Church of the Canton of Zurich, to speak about the situation of Christians in Turkey and the state of the Mor Gabriel Monastery.

The Syrian Orthodox Mor Gabriel Monastery was founded in 397 and is the most important monastery in the Tur Abdin region of southeastern Turkey. The monastery is of great importance in terms of the maintenance of the Syrian language and culture as well as church training. Property rights, supported by documents, which have been legally valid for centuries, have now been questioned by the Turkish authorities in dubious legal proceedings.

Back in February, the presidents of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) and the Swiss Bishops’ Conference (SBC) issued an appeal to the Christians of Switzerland for solidarity and prayer.

In discussions with the abbot in Zurich, Gottfried Locher, council president of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, said that the FSPC would continue to advocate for support for brothers and sisters in faith in Turkey, including the Mor Gabriel Monastery now under threat. “We will continue to follow the legal proceedings in Turkey very closely”, Locher announced. Archbishop Timotheos was convinced that “Mor Gabriel is a benchmark for the democratization of Turkey,” and was happy about the appreciable solidarity that the Swiss churches expressed for the Christians of Turkey. He expressed his appreciation for the wide range of support and especially for the financial support that he accepted from the Reformed churches of Zurich and Thurgau.

» Appeal (german)
» Press photos