Russian church leader says calls to turn Hagia Sophia into mosque threaten Christianity
Patriarch Kirill, the leader of Russia’s Orthodox Church, said on Monday that calls to convert Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque posed a threat to Christianity.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, an ancient building at the heart of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and now one of Turkey’s most visited monuments.
The proposal has been criticized by several religious and political leaders, including the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch, spirtual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, as well as Greece, France and the United States.
“A threat against Hagia Sophia is a threat to all of Christian civilization, meaning (a threat to) our spirituality and history,” Patriarch Kirill said in a statement.
“What could happen to Hagia Sophia will cause deep pain among the Russian people.”
The Kremlin said on Monday it hoped Turkish authorities would take into account Hagia Sophia’s status as a World Heritage Site.
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