Patriarch Theophilos hopes Turkey will keep current status of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia Cathedral. Photo: ostrovok.ru

The Jerusalem Patriarch expressed concern over calls from members of the Turkish government to alter the current status of Hagia Sophia and convert it into a mosque.

His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all of Palestine, issued a statement regarding the calls by the Turkish authorities to change the current status of Hagia Sophia shrine and convert it into a mosque, the website of the Jerusalem Patriarchate reports.

Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem stated that “It is with utmost seriousness that we express our concern over recent calls from members of the Turkish government to alter the current status of the Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.”

“Over the course of generations, the region and its people have passed through challenging times that have left painful memories. However, it has been to Turkey’s credit that for nearly 100 years it has administered the Hagia Sophia as a museum in order to maintain an extent of neutrality over the site. Subsequently, people from all over the world and from every background are able to enjoy its spiritual, architectural, and historical splendor,” writes the Primate of the Jerusalem Church.

“Hagia Sophia today remains a symbol of tolerance,” he added.

“As stewards of sacred heritage in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, for nearly 2,000 uninterrupted years, in a land over which three Abrahamic faiths lay equal claim, We strongly attest to the fact that accessibility promotes peace and mutual respect <…>. We hope and pray, for the benefit of all people of good will, and for Turkey as a nation with the potential to influence our entire region down a path of growth and mutual co-existence, that the present status of the Hagia Sophia is respected and preserved,” concluded Patriarch Theophilos.

As reported by the UOJ, earlier Mike Pompeo, Head of the State Department, called on Turkey to preserve Hagia Sophia as a museum.

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