ROC DECR head: Pat Kirill was first to speak out in defence of Hagia Sophia
It isn't right to think that converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a punishment for the actions of the Phanar’s head in Ukraine, Metropolitan Hilarion noted.
The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’, was the first to speak out in the defence of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Turkey, said the head of the DECR of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk.
“His Holiness Patriarch Kirill was the first Orthodox church leader who raised his voice in defence of Hagia Sophia when the decision to turn it into a mosque had already been announced but had not yet been made. And then the State Duma of the Russian Federation, following the Patriarch, adopted a statement on this issue,” Metropolitan Hilarion said on the ROC DECR’s website.
The bishop stressed that the Hagia Sophia Cathedral is a common Orthodox shrine, which is of particular importance for the Russian Orthodox Church. The beauty of this cathedral impressed the ambassadors of Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir so much that they saw in it the beauty of Heaven, and this influenced the choice of the holy prince in favor of Orthodoxy, Metropolitan Hilarion recalled.
“The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a blow to the entire Orthodox Christianity, I would even say, to the entire world Christianity. We, Orthodox Christians, are experiencing this blow together and are going through it hard,” he stressed.
The head of the ROC DECR does not agree with the opinion of some media outlets which believe that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a punishment to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the Tomos for the OCU.
“Again, some say that Patriarch Bartholomew could have prevented the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, but he did not. I also cannot agree with this. He could not prevent this, just as hasn’t been able for many years to get a theological school on the island of Halki opened. The Turkish authorities ignore Patriarch Bartholomew,” continued Metropolitan Hilarion.
The Russian Orthodox Church is very upset that the world Orthodox community has received the news of Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque internally divided, he said.
“Not only are we being struck from the outside, we get hit from within. This is very sad,” said the head of the ROC DECR.
He said that in Belgrade, the work on the internal improvement of the St. Sava Cathedral, in which the Russian Orthodox Church is also taking part, is coming to an end. Metropolitan Hilarion hopes that inside this temple, the faithful will feel the same way as the ambassadors of the Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir did in the Hagia Sophia Cathedral.
Earlier, the Primate of the UOC, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, spoke about his attitude to the change in Hagia Sophia’s status.