Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the words of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew regarding the planned conversion of the Hagia Sophia to a mosque cut to the heart. The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, applauds the tweet yesterday of Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador At-Large for International Religious Freedom, who wrote: “The Hagia Sophia holds enormous spiritual & cultural significance to billions of believers of different faiths around the world. We call on the Govt of #Turkey to maintain it as a @UNESCO World Heritage site & to maintain accessibility to all in its current status as a museum.” This signals the advocacy of the U.S. government in this all-important issue of religious freedom, and holds out hope that this magnificent jewel will be preserved as part of the cultural heritage of the entire world and people of all faiths.
For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, see here.
“Greek [Orthodox Ecumenical] Patriarch Speaks of Hagia Sophia Conversion,” International Christian Concern, June 26, 2020:
06/26/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Greek [Orthodox] Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople (Istanbul) recently expressed his concern over Turkish President Erdogan’s plans to convert the Hagia Sophia cathedral into a mosque. The patriarch said, “What can I say as a Christian clergyman and the Greek patriarch in Istanbul? Instead of uniting, a 1,500-year-old heritage is dividing us. I am saddened and shaken.”
The Hagia Sophia cathedral was once the center of eastern Christianity, but was converted into a mosque with the Ottoman conquest just over 500 years ago. When the Ottoman Empire dissolved into modern day Turkey, the cathedral was changed into a museum. Legally, it is supposed to remain as a museum. However, whenever the ruling AK Party is in need of increased popular support, they promise to convert the church back into a mosque. Rhetoric of this nature has increased in recent days and it is expected that next week Turkish courts will rule in favor of this conversion.
While Patriarch Bartholomew I has faith that the Greek Christians will remain strong in Turkey, many fear a continued decrease in the Christian population. Genocide, discrimination and property confiscation since the early 1900s led to the exodus of many Christian communities, and policies against Christians have not seen much change….