Pope Francis said he was saddened by the situation around St. Sophia Cathedral, which by the decision of Turkish authorities will be given the status of a mosque. This was reported on July 12 by ADNkronos.
“I think about the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Istanbul, and I am very sorry,” said the Pope during his traditional Sunday sermon at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
On July 10, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree to turn the St. Sophia Cathedral into a mosque. Thus, the 1934 decision to grant the church a museum status was annulled.
During his appeal on July 10, he called on everyone to respect the decision of the authorities and stressed that Aya Sofia falls under the jurisdiction of Turkey. At the same time, there are 435 churches and synagogues in the country, which indicates respect for a variety of religious views, the President assured. Later Erdogan also stated that the opinion of other states will not affect the transformation of the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul from a museum to a mosque.
A number of local Christian churches, including the ROC, expressed regret over the decision. The same reaction came from UNESCO.
Sophia Cathedral was built in 532-537 in the Byzantine Empire. After the conquest of the country in 1453 the temple became a mosque, and in 1935 the Turkish government made it a museum.