Whelby supports Bartholemew on ancient cathedral

I was saddened to hear that the ruling party in Turkey is pushing forward plans to again convert the Hagai Sophia into a Mosque.  The Hagai Sophia was built after the Roman Emperors converted to Christianity in ancient times.  It is a huge and beautiful church building that served for a Millennium as the cathedral for the Patriarch of Constantinople, the leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians in the world.  Around AD 1500 the city was conquered by Muslims - Ottoman Turks (thus, 'Turkey') - who converted the great church into a mosque and white washed all of the beautiful mosaics.  In the 20th Century a secular government came to power which converted the building to a museum.  Across town is the Blue Mosque which copies the architecture of Hagai Sophia, and also makes one wonder how another mosque of that size would be needed in the city.  Converting the cathedral into a mosque would seem to be an attempt to make a statement about the power of an expansionist Islam over Western/Christian culture.   

In any case, I am heartened to hear that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Whelby has lent his support to the Ecumenical Patriarch in this matter, stating that Hagai Sophia should not become a mosque.  I, for one, think that the cathedral should be returned to the Eastern Orthodox community in Istanbul from whom it was forcibly taken; a Christian community which has certainly not thrived under Turkish rule.  There are several petitions to that effect floating around the Web.

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