ROC Synod publishes a statement regarding Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Photo: euromag.ru

The Holy Synod of ROC stressed the Orthodox world’s response to Turkey's decision on changing Hagia Sophia status was fragmented due to Phanar’s actions in Ukraine.

On July 17, 2020, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church issued a statement in light of the decision of the Turkish authorities to alter the status of Hagia Sophia, the website patriarchy.ru reports.

Expressing deep regret, the Synod noted that "the decision was made without taking into account the petitions and clearly expressed position of the Primates and hierarchs of the Orthodox Local Churches, representatives of foreign states, numerous international public and human rights organizations, clergy of various faiths and religious traditions."

According to the synodals, the decision to change the status of the Hagia Sophia temple "offends the religious feelings of millions of Christians around the world, which can lead to the disturbance of inter-religious balance and understanding between Christians and Muslims not only in Turkey itself, but also in other places."

The Holy Synod emphasized that the decision of the Turkish authorities causes a poignant pain, as it was adopted "in conditions when Christianity is a persecuted religion in many parts of the planet, when the exodus of Christians from the Middle East continues."

The synodals recalled that “Hagia Sophia was built in honor of Christ the Savior; in the minds of millions of Christians it remains a temple. For the Orthodox Church, this temple has a special historical and spiritual significance.”

At the same time, addressing the Local Churches, the Holy Synod deplored the fact that “the Orthodox world today is fragmented in responding to such a joyless event for the Holy Orthodox Church, which was eventuated by the anticanonical legalization of the split in Ukraine and which weakened our ability to jointly confront new spiritual threats and civilization challenges."

“Now, in an era of the increasing Christianophobia and growing pressure of secular society on the Church, unity is needed even more than before. We urge the fraternal Local Churches together, in the spirit of peace and love for Christ, to seek a way out of the crisis,” the document says.

At the same time, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed the hope that the Turkish authorities would do everything necessary to preserve the Christian mosaics of the temple and provide Christian pilgrims with access to them.

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that according to Patriarch Kirill, Hagia Sophia is a great Christian shrine, and a threat to it is a threat to the whole of Christian civilization and therefore, to our spirituality and history.

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