MP Panikos Leonidou, head of the Cypriot delegation to the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy (DSO), participated in a three-day pilgrimage visit of the Assembly's delegation to Mount Athos, between November 25 and 27, 2022, at the invitation of the Secretary General of the DSO, Greek MP Dr. Maximou Charakopoulou.
During the visit, Mr. Leonidou denounced Turkey for continuing the policy of de-Christianizing the cultural and religious heritage in the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus.
The ILO delegation consisted of MPs from Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Poland and the Republic of North Macedonia.
An announcement by the Parliament states that during the visit, the DSO delegation had meetings with the ecclesiastical administration of the “Autonomous Monastic State of Mount Athos” in Karyes and with the Professors or representatives of Holy Monasteries and Skites on the Athos peninsula of Halkidiki. Beyond the ceremonial nature and symbolism of the visit to a holy place, where the tradition of monasticism and the ecumenicality of Orthodoxy beyond the millennium are documented, the visit aimed to further promote the ILO's global campaign to condemn the conversion of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul in a mosque.
In this context, the dedicated volume of the DSO entitled “Hagia Sophia: The Temples of God's Wisdom around the World”, which includes 37 emblematic temples dedicated to God's Wisdom from China to Cyprus and Scotland.
During the meetings, Mr. Leonidou underlined that Cyprus has existed for 48 years gross violations of international law and human rights and freedoms. Turkey, Mr. Leonidou said, continues the policy of de-Christianizing the cultural and religious heritage in the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus, pointing out that most monasteries have been captured and are in a state of decline, under the responsibility of the occupying regime.
< p>On Friday, the members of the delegation had meetings in Karyes with the Primate of the Holy Episcopate, Elder Christoforos Ibiritis, in the presence of the Deputy Political Commander of Mount Athos Aristos Kasmiroglou, as well as with the representative of the Holy Monastery of Esfigmenou Fr. Gabriel. They visited the Holy Monastery of Agios Andreas (Serai), where Russian-speaking monks live and spent the night at the Holy Monastery of Simonos Petra, where they had a meeting with Professor Archimandrite Elissaios.
On Saturday, the delegation visited the Holy Monastery of Megas Lavras and the tomb of Agios Athanasios the Athonite, founder of the monastery and founder of monasticism on Mount Athos and had a meeting with Professor Archimandrite Prodromos. He also went to the Holy Tabernacle of the Holy Forerunner, where Romanian monks live and had a meeting with the Righteous Fr. Philemon and, finally, the Holy Monastery of Dochiari, where they had a meeting with Professor Archimandrite Amfilochios.