Date: December 19, 2013
ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER RHETORIC TO CONVERT HAGIA SOPHIA INTO A MOSQUE
NEW YORK – His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, expressed his grave concern over current rhetoric by some Turkish state officials regarding the intention to convert the historic Hagia Sophia (the magnificent 6th-century Orthodox Christian Cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) from a museum to a functioning mosque. Such a step might be interpreted as an expression of intensification of state Islamization policies causing an elimination of Christianity from its 2000-year presence in its lands of origin.
Hagia Sophia’s significance as a religious site and globally recognized symbol of intercultural respect and sacred beauty is reflected in the 1985 UNSECO designation of Hagia Sophia as a world heritage site. The Archbishop stated, “If any shift should occur from the current use of Hagia Sophia as a museum, then, the Turkish government should allow it to operate as originally intended and as it functioned for almost 1000 years, as a Christian Cathedral and not as a mosque.”