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‘Very distressed’: Pope Francis laments conversion of Hagia Sophia into mosque
Pope Francis has added his voice to those objecting to the museum status of Istanbuls famous Hagia Sophia having been revoked. Originally a Byzantine Christian church, the Turkish government has turned it back into a mosque.
“My thoughts go to Istanbul. I’m thinking about Hagia Sophia. I am very distressed,” the pontiff said, in the Vatican’s first reaction to the decision taken by the Turkish authorities. The brief remark made during a Sunday prayer marking the International Day of the Sea saw the Pope add his voice to the growing chorus from other Christian churches worldwide that have expressed concern over the move.
Earlier, the World Council of Churches, a Geneva-based organization comprising numerous Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican institutions, expressed “grief and dismay” over the development, adding that Hagia Sophia had, until now, been “a place of openness, encounter and inspiration for people from all nations.”