The Vatican speaks out on the Turkish government’s decision to return Hagia Sophia Mosque to Istanbul, Turkey. For a millennium it was the main basilica of Orthodox Christianity
This is the first official position taken by the Vatican and the Catholic Church after the announcement that Hagia Sophia (PHOTOGALLERY), for a millennium the main basilica of Orthodox Christianity and for five centuries a mosque after the Turkish taking of Constantinople, would have been brought back to Muslim worship by reversing the decision made by Ataturk that in 1934 had turned it into a museum.
The Pontiff, to take a position on the matter, waited for the end of the Sunday Angelus recitation, taking the opportunity of the international day of the sea. “On this second Sunday in July International Day of the Sea occurs,” he said, “I extend an affectionate greeting to all those who work on the sea. Then he added:” the idea of the sea takes me a bit far. The thought goes to Istanbul, I think of Hagia Sophia. I am very saddened. “
The position of other Christians
Turkey, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul will once again become a mosque
Before him, the patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew had expressed himself, protagonist of an intense relationship with Pope Francis in the context of ecumenical dialogue. In recent days, the Roman patriarch pointed out, the patriarch had denounced that the return of Saint Sophia to Islamic worship would push “millions of Christians all over the world against Islam”. Likewise, Osservatore Romano recalled, the Russian Orthodox Church through Patriarch Kirill had launched a heartfelt appeal against the project, and now welcomes the decision with “great pain and sorrow”. Metropolitan Hilarion, President of the External Relations Department of
Moscow Patriarchate called it “a blow to world orthodoxy”.
The Greek government instead described the choice as “provocation to the civilized world”. “Any criticism is an attack on our independence” is the answer of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Lastly, Unesco’s opinion: “A country – says the UN agency – must ensure that no modification undermines the extraordinary universal value of a site on its territory that is on the list. Any modification must be notified from the country to UNESCO and verified by the World Heritage Committee “