The priests of Crete express their strong opposition to the intentions of the Turkish leadership to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque and declare their full support for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
In their announcement, they state:
The Union of the Clergy Associations of the Church of Crete (ESKEK), which represents the clergy of all of Crete, disapproves of the intention recently expressed by the Turkish government to covert the Holy Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople into a mosque.
We unite our voices, which are not only the voices of Christians but also the voices of all Orthodox around the world. We hope that Turkey will not follow through on its threat.
At the same time, we, the clergy of Crete, express our full support for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and for the Ecumenical Patriarch as well.
The Institute for National and Religious Affairs (INRA) also issued an announcement on the matter:
Hagia Sophia is a marvel of universal culture and architecture and it was built as a Christian church. Nothing more, nothing less.
It is estimated that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque will turn the whole civilised world against Turkey, which will be at the centre of serious accusations. In addition, it will worsen Turkey’s relations with Christian states, with the EU, and Greece in particular, at a time when the European Neighbourhood Policy is expected to be implemented.
The Institute shares the concerns of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who said: “A heritage of 1,500 years should unite us, not divide us. ” It also shares the stance taken by Unesco on the matter.
“We hope that prudence, political maturity and respect for universal values regarding culture and religious pluralism will prevail,” the Ecumenical Patriarch added.