Pope Francis is the latest religious leader to condemn Turkey’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
“My thoughts go to Istanbul. I think of Hagia Sophia and I am very saddened,” he said during his weekly blessing in St. Peter’s Square.
Following Friday's decision by the Turkish government to turn the former Greek Orthodox Cathedral and Basilica of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque, Pope Francis at Angelus today:
"I think about Hagia Sophia, and I am greatly saddened." pic.twitter.com/M2ZNal3YCF
— Catholic Sat (@CatholicSat) July 12, 2020
On Friday, Erdoğan also announced that Hagia Sophia mosque will be open for prayer on July 24.
“Hagia Sophia will start functioning as a mosque after 86 years. I hope this decision will benefit all of humanity. “The doors of Hagia Sophia will be open to everyone,” he said.
“Open to all, Muslims and non-Muslims,” he added.
The World Council of Churches has called on Erdogan to reverse his decision and Patriarch Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, called it disappointing.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has no remorse for his decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque again.
“The issue of turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque is the result of our just determination. We made this decision by looking at what our nation wants. As we did in Syria, so we did in Libya, and elsewhere we will continue on our rightful path to building a great and strong Turkey,” he said.