ROC: Turkey "demonstratively disregards" the feelings of Christians

Chora Church in Istanbul. Photo: AFP 2020 / Bulent Kilic

The head of the MP DECR commented on the decision of the Turkish authorities to convert the former Orthodox monastery in Chora, Istanbul, into a mosque.

The current leadership of Turkey demonstratively neglects the religious feelings of Christians all over the world and we cannot remain indifferent to this, said Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, in a commentary to RIA Novosti.

He recalled that the Church of Christ the Saviour in the Fields, a part of the monastery ensemble in Chora, which the Turkish authorities decided to turn into a mosque after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, has the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“Of the Byzantine churches in Istanbul, this church has preserved its original appearance most,” noted the hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. "Its magnificent mosaics and frescoes are outstanding examples of Byzantine art of Palaeologus Renaissance," stressed the ROC hierarch.

Metropolitan Hilarion believes that after the Chora Chuch is converted into a mosque, its unique mosaics will also become inaccessible for viewing, as happened with the mosaics of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral, “despite the assurances of the Turkish authorities that they will be accessible to visitors at any time except for hours of Muslim prayer ".

The head of the DECR MP noted "the demonstrative disregard of the religious feelings of Christians all over the world by the current leadership of Turkey, which is difficult to justify with any reasonable arguments".

“The trampling of the priceless Byzantine cultural heritage can hardly be of any benefit to the Turkish state. But such steps will certainly not contribute to maintaining Turkey's international reputation and strengthening interfaith harmony in the country and throughout the world. Russian culture and history are successively linked with the glorious past of the Eastern Roman Empire, and therefore we cannot remain indifferent to such sad facts,” he stressed.

As reported, the Turkish government intends to turn into a mosque the Church of Christ the Savior from the ensemble of the monastery in Chora in Istanbul, which for more than 60 years has operated as a museum — Kariye Müzesi.

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