Photo: Nikos Papachristou.

Photo: Nikos Papachristou.

As Muslim Friday prayers took place in Hagia Sophia on 24 July for the first time since the 1930s, the World Council of Churches (WCC) joined member churches and international organizations, including a number of prominent Muslim leaders, in urging a reconsideration of the decision to turn the museum into a mosque.

“In this afternoon’s concluding session of this week’s meeting of the World Council of Churches executive committee, members representing different church families and regions joined in prayer and sorrow with millions of Christians around the world marking this sad day in history of Christianity and of inter-religious relations,” said WCC interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca. “We offer our solidarity and accompaniment particularly to all churches and Christians of the Orthodox family, for whom Hagia Sophia holds a very special significance, as well as to all Turkish citizens who do not feel represented in this action by their government.”

Sauca asked that the WCC fellowship and all people of good will join in praying for the decision to be reversed. “We continue to pray that the Turkish authorities will be moved to reconsider this decision, and to undo this deeply regressive measure,” he said.

Read the full statement by the WCC interim general secretary

Hagia Sophia decision by President Erdogan evokes 'grief and dismay' from World Council of Churches - WCC news release 23 July 2020

WCC letter to President Erdogan to keep Hagia Sophia as the shared heritage of humanityWCC letter to President Erdogan to keep Hagia Sophia as the shared heritage of humanity - 11 July 2020

Muslim leaders in solidarity with WCC’s urgent calls to keep Hagia Sophia a place of openness - WCC news release 23 July 2020

Read the Religions for Peace Statement on Hagia Sophia - 24 July 2020

WCC work on strengthening inter-religious trust and respect