The President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, contacted Pope Francis today regarding the decision of the Turkish authorities to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Katerina Sakellaropoulou stressed that this decision deeply distressed those who believe that this leading symbol of Christianity belongs to humanity and the world cultural heritage and moves Turkey away from the values of secularism and the principles of tolerance and pluralism.
This action, she stressed, is not an internal affair of Turkey but a broader issue that must be explicitly and unequivocally condemned by the international community. The Greek President thanked the Pope for his statements of support and asked him, in turn, to use all his influence to raise general awareness internationally so as that the Turkish leadership reverses its decision and re-establishes the status of Hagia Sophia as a protected monument.
On his part, the head of the Roman Catholic Church agreed with Sakellaropoulou’s remarks, acknowledged the political motives of Erdogan’s decision and promised to continue his efforts, as part of his role, to reverse the decision. The Pope also praised the efforts of Greece in the reception of refugees and immigrants, as he had the opportunity to witness during his visit to Lesvos in 2016.
The President invited Pope Francis to visit Greece in 2021, a year in which the bicentennial anniversary of the 1821 Greek Revolution will be celebrated. The Pope accepted the invitation, hoping that the conditions would allow the trip to take place.