Russian Orthodox believers grieve over Turkey’s decision to turn Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque, the Rector of St. Seraphim church in the US city of Sea Cliff, New York, protopriest Seraphim Gan told Sputnik.
“I think all Orthodox people in the world grieve over Turkey’s decision to change the status of Hagia Sophia to the mosque,” said father Seraphim, adding that he has expressed his personal opinion.
Earlier in the day, Turkey’s top administrative court overturned a 1934 ruling, turning Hagia Sophia into a museum, which means that it will now be converted into a mosque again.
“Hagia Sophia is a very important and deep symbol for all Russian believers,” said father Seraphim, who also serves as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) Synod of Bishops Chancellor.
Over 1,000 years ago, the Russian Duke Vladimir sent his missionaries to Istanbul to learn about Christianity, he noted. “Hagia Sophia was a place where they met the Christian faith, which later enlightened our forefathers,” said the priest.
Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoyda told Sputnik the church regrets that Turkey made the decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque despite the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill’s calls not to do so.