Orthodox Flock to Once-Banned Holy Site of Sumela Monastery in Turkey

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SUMELA MONASTERY (REUTERS).- Europe Papadopolous’s grandparents were children when they fled their village in northeast Turkey and settled in Greece almost 90 years ago, yet she still felt she was in exile. Papadopolous, 45, was one of thousands of Orthodox faithful who journeyed to Sumela Monastery, built into a sheer cliff above the Black Sea forest, on Sunday to attend the first mass here since ethnic Greeks were expelled in 1923. “Being apart from this place feels like Ulysses: always searching for your home,” Papadopolous said, tears streaming down her face and adding that even though her grandparents are dead, she was sure they could see her “homecoming.” The historic service is part of a broader easing of religious restrictions in Muslim Turkey as Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan seeks to fulfill pledges to expand minority rights, which could also kickstart Turkey’s stalled European