Pained by decision to turn Hagia Sophia into mosque: Pope Francis
VATICAN CITY – The supreme head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis said on Sunday he was hurt by Turkey’s decision to make Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum a mosque.
“My thoughts go to Istanbul. I think of Santa Sophia and I am very pained,” he said during his weekly blessing in St. Peter’s Square.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the first prayers would be held in Hagia Sophia on July 24 after declaring the monument was a mosque after a court verdict revoked its status as a museum.
The World Council of Churches urged the Turkish president to reverse his decision and Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of the Orthodox Christians, who is based in Istanbul called the move disappointing.
Erdogan said the structure, which is nearly 1,500 years old, would remain open to Muslims, Christians and foreigners.
He said that Turkey had exercised its sovereign right to revoke the museum status and convert it into a mosque and any criticism of the move would be an attack on its independence.
Greece flayed the decision and UNESCO said its World Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia’s status.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field