According to sigmalive.com, “The status of Hagia Sophia is an issue concerning Turkey,” Catholic bishops in Turkey said in a controversial statement after a letter was sent by the Greek Roman Catholic Archbishop to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in which he asked him for the status of Hagia Sophia to remain as it is.
“Although we would like Hagia Sophia to remain a museum, it is not up to us to intervene or even express our opinion on a decision exclusively concerning the Republic of Turkey,” said a group of Turkish Catholic bishops. Moreover, the Armenian patriarch made a similar statement a few weeks ago that had also caused friction within the Christian world, as not only did he not object to the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, but also he suggested that some space would be given to Christians to pray. The consensus statements made by some representatives of Christian communities on the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque received significant external criticism.
It is recalled that the Church of Greece recently issued an announcement regarding the Hagia Sophia issue and the threats of the Turkish government to convert it into a mosque. It is worth noting that this is the first official reaction of the Orthodox Church to the recent rhetoric that Turkey has developed regarding the issue of changing the status of Hagia Sophia.
The Church of Greece reminds that the church of Hagia Sophia has universal value, “because Christianity has a supranational and universal radiance. No modern or postmodern conception of ‘multiculturalism’ has created the monument, through which the Christian conception of the supreme Good and Beautiful is expressed in a unique way.”
The Synod also called on the Turkish government to show prudence and respect for the character of the monument and to decide to maintain it as a museum. Specifically, the Holy Synod in its announcement states that “the Temple of the Hagia Sophia (Holy God’s Wisdom) was founded by the Christian Emperor Justinian, it was inaugurated on December 27, 537 AD. and was intended as a place of ecclesiastical worship, dedicated to the Wisdom of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a masterpiece of architectural genius and is world-renowned as a pre-eminent monument of Christian culture.”
In addition, according to an announcement made by an official of the Russian Orthodox Church, it hoped that the current museum status of Hagia Sophia Cathedral would not be changed and the church would not be turned into a mosque again.
“Any attempts to change the museum status of Hagia Sophia Cathedral will lead to changing and violating fragile inter-confessional balances, existing today,” the head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion, said on Church and the World program on Rossiya-24. “This church is a symbol of Byzantium and a symbol of Orthodoxy for millions of Christians all around the world, especially for Orthodox believers,” the Metropolitan stressed.