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EU bishops deplore conversion of Istanbul Orthodox church into mosque

EU bishops deplore conversion of Istanbul Orthodox church into mosque


European Union bishops issue a statement saying Trkiyes' decision to transform the former Byzantine Church of St. Savior in Chora into a mosque further dilutes the historical roots of the Christian presence in the country.

By Vatican News

The Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) has expressed its regret over the recent implementation of a decision by the Turkish authorities to transform the Church of St. Savior in Chora into a mosque.

EU bishops said the move undermines the historic roots of Christianity in Türkiye.

This measure further dilutes the historical roots of the Christian presence in the country, we read in a press release. Any interreligious dialogue initiative promoted by the Turkish authorities loses credibility.

The Holy Savior Church in Chora, a highly symbolic Byzantine Orthodox Christian church in Istanbul, was officially opened for Islamic worship by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan in early May 2024.

This change followed the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque four years previously.

The early 4th century basilica was transformed into a mosque in the 16th century, during the Ottoman era. Became a museum in 1945, it is covered with mosaics and Byzantine Christian frescoes dating back several centuries.

Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, Secretary General of COMECE, deplored this decision, stressing that it will make religious coexistence more difficult.

In July 2020, COMECE also commented on the conversion of Hagia Sophia, calling it a “blow to interreligious dialogue.”

The Commission noted Turks' problems with hate speech and threats against national, ethnic and religious minorities.




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