In his blog today, David Alton has published several responses to the decision of the Turkish government to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque, including statements from Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and Cardinal Charles Bo.
Patriarch Theophilos III writes: "Our experience in Jerusalem is that to attempt to treat contested holy sites in an exclusive manner is simply a recipe for bitterness and suffering. When our holy sites are open to all, there is peace and mutual respect. Even the holy sites that belong particularly to Christians are open to all who wish to visit, and are shared among the various denominations…
The Republic of Turkey is a country with great potential to show the world the benefits of our common humanity and our common human destiny. The Orthodox world appeals to the Turkish government: We urge Turkey to live up to that potential, and show the world the value of coexistence between its various communities. Turkey has the power to demonstrate that we can maintain our historic holy spaces for all without distinction as beacons of hope and peace. We therefore call upon the government of Turkey to maintain Hagia Sophia as a museum, open to all.
Cardinal Bo warns that in previous epochs of history we know that the seizure of one another's sacred and holy buildings and sites has caused untold distress and bitterness and in our generation we should not be so foolish as to repeat the mistakes of history.He insists that Freedom of religion or belief is a foundational human right for everyone, of every faith and none; and recalls that in Syria and Iraq sacred places have been wantonly destroyed while in China shrines have been destroyed, the Cross removed from places of worship, and even churches, like Xiangbaishu Church in Yixing, demolished.
To read on see: https://davidalton.net/2020/07/24/hagia-sophia-cardinal-charles-bo-warns-that-in-previous-epochs-of-history-we-know-that-the-seizure-of-one-anothers-sacred-and-holy-buildings-and-sites-has-caused-untold-distress-and-bitte/
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