Pat. Kirill: Menace to Hagia Sophia threatens all Christian civilization

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus. Photo: news.church.ua

The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church spoke on the status of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia is a great Christian shrine, and a threat to it is a threat to the entire Christian civilization, and therefore to our spirituality and history. This was stated in an address by the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus in light of the situation around Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, patriarchia.ru reports.

“I am deeply concerned about the calls of some Turkish politicians to restore the museum status of Hagia Sophia, one of the greatest monuments of Christian culture,” Patriarch Kirill emphasized in his statement. “Built in the VI century in honor of Christ the Savior, this temple means a lot to the whole of Orthodoxy. And it is especially dear to the Russian Church. The ambassadors of Grand Prince Vladimir, having crossed the threshold of this temple, were captivated by its heavenly beauty. Hearing their story, St. Vladimir was baptized and baptized Kievan Rus, which after him ushered in a new spiritual and historical dimension – Christian civilization."

The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church noted that Hagia Sophia was and remains one of the reverently honored symbols of this civilization, of which we are now a part: “Its image has firmly entered our culture and history. It gave strength and inspiration to our architects in Kiev, Novgorod, Polotsk – in all the main centers of the spiritual formation of Ancient Rus.”

“The history of relations between Rus and Constantinople knows periods that were very difficult sometimes,” said the Most Holy Patriarch. “But any attempt to humiliate or trample the thousand-year-old spiritual heritage of the Church of Constantinople, the Russian people – both before and now – has always been perceived with bitterness and indignation. The menace to Hagia Sophia is a menace to the entire Christian civilization, and therefore to our spirituality and history. To this day, Hagia Sophia is a great Christian shrine for every Russian Orthodox person.”

He added that the duty of every civilized state is to maintain equilibrium: to reconcile contradictions in society, rather than exacerbate them; to promote the unification of people, rather than separation.

“Today, relations between Turkey and Russia are developing dynamically. It should be borne in mind that Russia is a country with the majority of the Orthodox population. And therefore, what can happen to Hagia Sophia will be echoed with deep pain among the Russian people. I hope for the prudence of the Turkish authorities. Maintaining the current, neutral status of Hagia Sophia, one of the greatest masterpieces of Christian culture, a symbolic temple for millions of Christians worldwide, will further develop relations between the peoples of Russia and Turkey, strengthen inter-religious peace and harmony,” concluded the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

As reported by the UOJ, on July 2, the Turkish Supreme Court ruled that the status of Hagia Sophia could be changed by decree of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who advocated converting the Cathedral from a museum into a mosque. The Russian Orthodox Church disagreed that the fate of Hagia Sophia is exclusively an internal affair of Turkey, since this temple is the property of all mankind.

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