NEW YORK – His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America as soon as the sad news broke about the decision of the Turkish government to convert Aghia Sophia, the magnificent Cathedral of the Orthodox Church, into a mosque, convened a teleconference of the Eparchial Synod, which issued the following announcement:
“Today, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros convened a special session of the Holy Eparchial Synod, and with great sorrow and heartfelt anguish informed its members of the decision made by the Turkish government earlier today to convert Hagia Sophia of Constantinople into a mosque.
For Orthodox Christians around the globe, and also for the entire Christendom, Hagia Sophia, Constantinople, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate are sacred spiritual centers and comprise a repository of our Christian Faith and tradition. Therefore, we call the Turkish government to respect the pan-Orthodox and pan-Christian consciousness, which today has been deeply wounded by this decision.
We hope that this decision is not a manifestation of the deterioration in the stance of the Turkish government toward the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other religious minorities in Turkey.
The hierarchy, the clergy, the monastics, and the faithful people of our Holy Archdiocese are deeply distressed, and pray fervently that peace, love, and well-being will prevail in that region and that the Turkish government annuls this decision.”