Beirut Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elias Odeh on Hagia Sophia: Religion is not a tool for politicians to use for political purposes

BEIRUT – Metropolitan of Beirut and its Territory for the Greek Orthodox Church archbishop Elias Odeh criticized the Turkish decision to convert the Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque saying that religion is not a tool that politicians can use for their own political purposes. Instead, houses of God are places of worship and not for populism or building glories.

During his Sunday mass sermon, archbishop Elias Odeh said that “Political and religious popularity is not built on churches by changing their features and hiding their icons. Furthermore, respecting and accepting the other is one of the sacred rights and duties. Anyone who denies them is a criminal against humanity.” Archbishop Odeh expressed his outrage that the world in the 21st century is still divided between those who call for brotherhood and tolerance and those who kill brotherhood and sow division and hatred.

The Archbishop stressed that mankind cannot develop if it continues to destroy history or replace it, adding that; “history consists of accumulating eras. Whoever denies those who preceded them will be denied by those who succeed them”, noting that history cannot be obliterated and at the same time is not indulgent. History will expose the criminals even after centuries.

Via Twitter, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou called on His Holiness Pope Francis to intervene to prevent the conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque, pointing out that she informed His Holiness of the extent to which the Turkish decision undermined the foundations of tolerance and how it deepened the gap between cultures and religions.

The Syriac Canadian journalist Susan Korah called on her country’s government to intervene in order to preserve Hagia Sophia as a museum in Istanbul, saying, “For a while, I have been following the unfair campaign led by Turkey against the country’s Christians. So, the international powers must work to not allow Erdoğan to convert the Hagia Sophia Church to a mosque.”