Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Turkish Authorities Considering the Reopening of Hagia Sophia for Christian Worship
The director of the state sponsored Islamic Research Center has made a new proposal toward reopening buildings for religious purposes.
Ankara [kath.net/KAP] In the newly burning conflict surrounding Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, a leading adviser of the Turkish Religious Office has proposed that the historical Church should be open for Muslim prayers on workdays and for Christian Liturgies on Sundays. This could go a long way to solving the tug of war surrounding the Hagia Sophia which won't just be a comprise, said Mehmet Akif Aydin, director of the State sponsored Research Center (ISAM), to "Zaman" (Tuesday). One such solution would also reinforce the bonds between Muslims and Christians and the readiness of both faith communities to coexist more peacefully.
Although the Hagia Sofia has not been used for more than 80 years for religious purposes, more recently attempts of Islamic and Christian groups have advocated prayers or religious services under her domes.
The Church, built in the Fourth Century was for a millennium, the most important Church in Christendom. After the sack of Constantinople in 1453 by the Ottomans it served another 500 years as the most important mosque in the Ottoman Empire.
In the Turkish Republic the building served as a cultural monument since 1934. In order to avoid inter religious conflict, it has been since then no longer permitted to be used for religious purposes -- neither Christian nor Muslim.
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