The unjustified silence of the Holy See and personally of Pope Francis on the burning issue of the conversion of the emblematic church of Hagia Sophia into a mosque causes concern and sadness in the Christian world.
At a time when the whole world, both religiously and politically and academically, has taken a clear stand against Turkey’s intention to once again defile the temple of the Wisdom of God, the loquacious and ever-sensitive bishop of Rome is… silent.
As orthodoxia.info points out, this is the second time in the history of Hagia Sophia that a global appeal has been made for its protection, and unfortunately Rome prefers not to get involved. As it did in 1453 when, despite Byzantine appeals for help, the army never arrived from the West, allowing Mehmed II to eventually conquer Constantinople and, of course, Hagia Sophia, which he converted into a mosque.
Today, 560 years later, unfortunately, history repeats itself.
The Catholic Bishops of Turkey
The silence of the Holy See is not the only point that concerns the Orthodox for the attitude of the Roman Catholics towards this extremely important issue. A month ago, on June 18, the Catholic Bishops of Turkey, in a statement to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), which was rebroadcast by many other Catholic, and not only, media, chose to support the Turkish government by saying that whether Hagia Sophia would be converted into a mosque or not was a matter for the Turkish government.
“We are a Church that lacks legal status, so we cannot give advice on the internal affairs of this country,” the Catholic bishops of Turkey had said characteristically, adding that “although we would like the Hagia Sophia to maintain its character as a museum, we are not in position to intervene or even express our opinion on a decision that concerns exclusively the Turkish Republic.”
Only Greek Roman Catholics stood tall
At a time when the Holy See was silent and their bishops in Turkey were “washing their hands” of the issue of Hagia Sophia, the only ones who rοse to the occasion, were the Catholic Bishops of Greece, whose Holy Synod sent a letter to the Turkish president calling on him to stop the actions.
“The Holy Synod does not want to believe that you really intend to take such an action, which would offend the religious sentiments of two billion Christians around the world. If there is, even in your mind, such a thought, we ask you to withdraw such a possibility, which will create greater distances between Monotheistic Religions. This is unthinkable for us, especially today when an effort is being made to respect the faith of every human being and especially in Democratic States,” the Catholic Hierarchy of Greece wrote to T. Erdogan.
Today is the official decision on the future of Hagia Sophia, this emblematic church of the entire Eastern Orthodox Church, and unfortunately, at least so far, Rome continues to be a bystander.