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Turkey: COMECE regrets the conversion of a 4th century church into a mosque

Turkey: COMECE regrets the conversion of a 4th century church into a mosque




Source: TO START

The Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) commented today, Thursday, May 23, 2024, on the recent implementation of the decision of the Turkish authorities to transform the Church of Saint-Sauveur in Chora into a mosque.

Four years after the transformation of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, the very symbolic Church of Saint-Sauveur de Chora in Istanbul is following the same path. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan officially opened the Byzantine Orthodox Christian Church to Islamic worship in early May 2024.

“It is another step in the dilution of the historical roots of the Christian presence in the country, and it is a regrettable decision which will make religious coexistence more difficult. With this action, any initiative in terms of interreligious dialogue promoted by the country's authorities will inevitably lose credibility”, declares Father Manuel Barrios Prieto, Secretary General of COMECE.

The 4th century church is an emblem of Eastern Christianity and a living memory of the historical presence of Christians in the country. The church is part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage and operated as a museum for decades.

In July 2020, COMECE commented on the change in status of the world heritage monument Hagia Sophia from museum to Muslim mosque, considering it “a blow to interreligious dialogue”. On this occasion, COMECE also highlighted Turkey's “serious problem” in terms of hate speech and threats directed against national, ethnic and religious minorities.




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