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Religious And Ethnic Tensions Became Cornerstone Of Ukrainian Political Life

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Religious And Ethnic Tensions Became Cornerstone Of Ukrainian Political Life

Hagia Sophia Interior Panorama. Image: wikipedia.org

On July 17, the Russian Orthodox Church released an official statement commenting on the Turkish decision to change the status of Hagia Sophia to a mosque. The statement says that the decision of the Erdogan goverment was made “with no regard for the petitions and explicit position of the Primates and hierarchs of the Orthodox Local Churches, representatives of foreign states, numerous international non-governmental and human rights organisations, and clerics of various confessions and religious traditions”.

The Russian Orthodox Churcn noted that “this dismal event has found the Orthodox world divided, as a direct consequence of the uncanonical legalisation of the schism in Ukraine, which weakened our ability to oppose together new spiritual threats and civilisational challenges.”

“Now, at a time of growing Christianophobia and increasing pressure on the Church from the secular society, unity is needed more than ever. We call upon the brotherly Local Churches to work together in the spirit of peace and love in Christ in order to seek ways to overcome the crisis.

We hope that the Turkish authorities will take necessary steps to preserve the priceless Christian mosaics which have miraculously survived to this day and will ensure access to them for Christian pilgrims.”

The concern of the Russian Orthodox Church regarding the current division of the Christian world over the uncanonical legalisation of the schism in Ukraine and other questions related to the politically-motivated actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople can be easily understood. However, it’s unlikely that they could be solved in the near future. Instead, Bartholomew I of Constantinople and his allies, including former Ukriainan President Petro Poroshenko, intensified their destructive efforts in eastern Europe. For example, the Poroshenko group is now actively working to politize and further the non-canonic Orthodox Church of Ukraine in order to use it as a tool against its political opponents.

Religious And Ethnic Tensions Became Cornerstone Of Ukrainian Political Life

Petro Poroshenko looks forward for peace

In his comments, Poroshenko regularly adresses the ‘successes’ of his administration in defending the ‘right of Ukrainains’ to ‘pray in Ukrainian’. He also reprotedly works to promote Metropolitan Symeon (Volodymyr Shostatsky) as the new head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine instead of Metropolitan Epiphanius. Metropolitan Symeon, Poroshenko believes, is expected to be more active in fueling the religious and ethnic tensions to strengthen positions of the radical political organizations that support Porshenko and his political party. It’s unlikely that Bartholomew I, his sponsors, and various pseudo-church organizations created with their help are ready for some real actions to overcome the division of the Orthodox world. Instead, this division is only growing.

The full text of “Statement of Russian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod concerning decision of Turkish authorities to change status of Hagia Sophia” (source):

At its session held on July 16-17, 2020, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted a statement concerning the decision of Turkey’s authorities to change the status of Hagia Sophia. The text of the statement is given below.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church expresses its profound regret over the decision of the state leadership of Turkey to revoke the museum status of Hagia Sophia and to give it to the Muslim community for public worship.

The decision was taken with no regard for the petitions and explicit position of the Primates and hierarchs of the Orthodox Local Churches, representatives of foreign states, numerous international non-governmental and human rights organisations, and clerics of various confessions and religious traditions. It has hurt religious feelings of millions of Christians all over the world, which can cause disturbance of interfaith balance and impair mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims both in and beyond Turkey.

At a time when Christianity is being persecuted in many places on the planet and the exodus of Christians from the countries of the Middle East continues, this decision of the Turkish authorities inflicts particular pain. Hagia Sophia was built in honour of Christ the Saviour, remaining a church in the consciousness of millions of Christians. And to the Orthodox Church this cathedral is of special historical and spiritual importance.

Appealing to the brotherly Local Churches, we note with great sadness that this dismal event has found the Orthodox world divided, as a direct consequence of the uncanonical legalisation of the schism in Ukraine, which weakened our ability to oppose together new spiritual threats and civilisational challenges. Now, at a time of growing Christianophobia and increasing pressure on the Church from the secular society, unity is needed more than ever. We call upon the brotherly Local Churches to work together in the spirit of peace and love in Christ in order to seek ways to overcome the crisis.

We hope that the Turkish authorities will take necessary steps to preserve the priceless Christian mosaics which have miraculously survived to this day and will ensure access to them for Christian pilgrims.

Expressing our hope for further promotion and strengthening of mutual respect and understanding between believers of various world religions, we also call upon the world community to render all possible assistance in maintaining the special status of Hagia Sophia, which is of timeless importance to all Christians.

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