Today, despite the appeals of Christian leaders around the world and many members of the international community, including a number of prominent Muslim leaders, the decision to reconvert the Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque was implemented, with Muslim Friday prayers being heard in the ancient building for the first time since the 1930s. In this afternoon’s concluding session of this week’s meeting of the WCC 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. They expressed their solidarity with all those churches that are marking this day by the ringing of church bells as a sign of mourning. We also 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. We continue to pray that the Turkish authorities will be moved to reconsider this decision, and to undo this deeply regressive measure.

Geneva 24 July, 2020

Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca
Interim General Secretary
World Council of Churches