Archbishop Elpidophoros of America on Friday decried a decision by Turkish authorities to re-convert the Byzantine Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora into a mosque.
"After the tragic transgression with HagiaSophia, now the Monastery of Chora, this exquisite offering of Byzantine culture to the world!" Elpidophoros wrote on his Twitter account. "The Turkish people do not deserve such a narrow-minded policy. The pleas and exhortations of the international community are ignored. How long?" he added.
The move was condemned earlier in the day by the Greek Foreign Ministry as “completely reprehensible." The ministry said the decision is yet another “provocation for religious people everywhere and for the international community that respects the monuments of human civilization.” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni weighed in too, describing the move as "an insult to global cultural heritage."
The presidential decree finalizing the corversion was issued on Friday. The change in Chora's status was passed in December 2019 but the decision of the State Council of Turkey had not been implemented, until today. Chora, which had been turned into the Kariye Museum after WWII and was then extensively restored, is covered with some of the finest Byzantine mosaics and frescoes.
The spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy of the EU also commented on the decision. “We are recording the decision to convert the Chora Church, which functioned as a museum since 1945, into a mosque and to open it for worship," Nabila Massrali said. "Like Hagia Sophia, Chora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a member of the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, Turkey is committed to interfaith and intercultural dialogue and the promotion of tolerance and coexistence.”