To the Editor:
In reference to Turkey's Move to Change Aghia Sophia's Status which appeared in The National Herald June 13 issue, given good will from all sides, there is another role that Aghia Sophia can play in the future — a role that would be consistent with its rich history of service to the Christian and Moslem traditions. Situated at the crossroads of the world's three major religions, it is ideally suited to serve as an Interfaith House of Worship where Moslems, Christians, and Jews, and persons of other faiths may enter in peace and pray to the One God common to all. By re-designating the famed Cathedral to that role, the government of Turkey will reaffirm its dedication to the principle of freedom of religion and place its nation in front of the ecumenical movement. It will also confirm, once and for all, Aghia Sophia's role as a house of prayer for which it was built, not a museum and tourist curiosity that it is today.
Admittedly, the re-designation will require good will and understanding from all sides, especially persons who consider praying with persons of another religion to be inappropriate. Perhaps it was so in the past, but it should no longer be. People of different faiths throughout the planet, pray and work together for the betterment of society.
To Orthodox faithful worldwide, Aghia Sophia's conversion to an Interfaith House of Worship would be a welcome move for it would provide their faithful with a central shrine to visit and worship, similar to the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome for Roman Catholics, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem for persons of the Jewish faith, and the Holy Places of Mecca for Muslims.