- Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I expressed a resounding no to the reopening
of Constantinople's Hagia Sophia as a mosque. In
fact he said that if it "must be returned to religious worship, that can only
be for Christian worship."
came on the eve of Sinaxis, the
meeting of all the heads of Orthodox Churches, gathered at the initiative of
the Phanar, and can be considered as a response to persistent rumours
circulating in sectors in Turkish society close to the ruling AKP party.
The remarks were
made during the homily the ecumenical patriarch addressed to a large group of
students and visiting scholars at the Phanar. Such
visits are part of a series of educational trips frequently organised by
foreign and Turkish groups.
trips and visits, you are given the opportunity to come into contact with the entire
Christian tradition that has developed in these lands," Bartholomew said, which
are "based on the Greek language and culture, and emphasise the importance of Christian
ideas and life. This is why you should always enrich and deepen your research
and knowledge. "
Sophia, a place of reference for everyone, is evidence of the historic and
lasting presence of Christian ideas in these lands," he added.
you have not missed persistent rumours circulating lately within certain
sectors of Turkish society to reopen Hagia Sophia as a mosque," the ecumenical
"We shall oppose
it, and all Christians, be they Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant, shall be with
us," Bartholomew said.
Sophia," he concluded, "was built to bear witness to the Christian faith and if
it must be returned to religious worship, that can only be for Christian worship."