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Education Min Pierrakakis raises Chora Monastery conversion issue during Vatican visit

Featured Education Min Pierrakakis raises Chora Monastery conversion issue during Vatican visit

Minister of Education, Religious Affairs & Sports Kyriakos Pierrakakis paid an official visit to the Vatican, where he raised the issue of Turkiye's conversion of the historic Monastery of Chora in Istanbul into a mosque.

In the framework of his first visit to the Vatican, the Greek minister was received by Pope Francis, "a figure with international radiance, whose initiatives and actions consistently contribute to the pursuit of peace and stability," as the minsiter said in a social media post.
Pierrakakis met successively with Vatican Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher; with Pro-Prefect for the

Section of New Evangelization of the Dicastery for Evangelization Archbishop Rino Fisichella; and with Prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches Cardinal Claudio Gugerotti.

Pierrakakis focused on the unacceptable, as he described it, decision to convert the Chora Monastery - as in the case of Hagia Sophia - into a mosque, which is contrary to the principle of protecting monuments of world cultural importance. He recalled that this tactic began in 2013 with the conversion of the Church of Hagia Sophia of Trebizond in Pontus from a monument to a mosque. He also noted the occasion of the 1,700th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council in 2025, when the Greek Orthodox and Catholic Easter celebrations coincide.

The meetings took place in a very cordial atmosphere, and the two sides decided to deepen their cooperation through concrete actions on issues such as the expansion of educational cooperation and the organization of joint actions on the ethics of technology and artificial intelligence. Pierrakakis was accompanied by Archbishop of Athens Apostolic Administrator of Rhodes, Theodoros Kontidis, and Secretary-General of Religions, Georgios Kalantzis. It is noted that the minister conveyed warm wishes from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Greek government to the pontiff.

Pierrakakis' visit of Kyriakos  marks the first official visit to the Vatican by a Greek Minister of Education, Religions, & Sports.