Pope Francis ‘very saddened’ as Turkey converts Hagia Sophia from museum into mosque
By Kelly Murray, CNN
(CNN) Pope Francis stood in silence for several minutes at his weekly Angelus prayer Sunday, after he talked about Turkey’s decision to convert the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.
“The sea takes my thought a bit far, to Istanbul,” the pontiff said during the prayer, which commemorates people who work at sea.
Pope Francis addresses pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on July 12, 2020.
“I think of Hagia Sophia, and I am very saddened.”
Since a cabinet decree in 1934, the iconic building in Istanbul has served as a museum, but on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a presidential decree to transfer the management of the building from the Ministry of Culture to the Presidency of Religious Affairs.
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The order follows a previous ruling by a Turkish court that annulled the decades-old cabinet decree.
The Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the group says it deeply regrets Turkey’s decision.