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Hagia Sophia: A Mosque or a Church

Date: December 19, 2013


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.”


  • Dallas Wolf
    Posted December 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    It’s a prime example of what happens when the fundamentalists of any religion have too much power and influence. Christian fundamentalists are little different except our reformation of the 16th century keeps them from the overt violent excesses of their Muslim counterparts.

    • Isaac
      Posted December 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      Are you talking about Western Christians or Eastern Christians?

      • Post Author
        Fr. Barnabas Powell
        Posted December 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

        Isaac, Hagia Sophia was a church building built when there was no division of East and West in the Church. The Cathedral continued to be a Christian Church even after the sack of Constantinople by the Western Crusaders and the forced latinization of the church services by the murderers of that sad historic event.

  • Isaac
    Posted December 20, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I hope this never happens. However, regarding the Patriarch in Constantinople, is it not time to abandon Constantinople (just as Rome was left to the barbarians and Constantinople was built, perhaps Constantinople should be left to the barbarians of islam.) Maybe a “New Constantinople” should be selcted (Thessaloniki?). Perhaps we can build a full scale replica of Hagia Sophia, even larger and more grand than the original – a Church and meeting place for all Orthodox Christians the world over. Just a thought.

  • Post Author
    Fr. Barnabas Powell
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    There is no reason for the Patriarchate to leave this city. If the Patriarchate couldn’t be destroyed by the attacks of the Crusaders then there is no reason to succumb to the brutal attacks of non-Christian forces.

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