CoE Diocese in Europe statement on Hagia Sophia

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The Diocese in Europe has issued a statement following the decision to end the status of Hagia Sophia as a museum in Istanbul.

Bishop Robert [Innes] said: 

“I endorse wholeheartedly the sentiments of lament expressed by the Presidents of Churches Together in England. As Anglicans, we have likewise expressed our feelings of deep regret shared by Christian brothers and sisters worldwide.  

Hagia Sophia has wide-reaching significance for Christians and Muslims, and a great benefit of its museum status since 1934 has been to help build a common understanding of our shared history in this unique city.   

We have shared the sadness of this loss and the distress of many partners with the UK Ambassador to Turkey, and a desire that reassurances are sought regarding future access to Hagia Sophia as a World Heritage site, recognized by UNESCO.” 

He continued:

“The Diocese in Europe represents the presence of Anglican communities across over 40 countries, including Turkey.  It is our fervent hope and prayer that opportunities to foster and strengthen dialogue, to build trust and mutual understanding among faiths in all communities where we are represented, will continue to have room to flourish.”