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‘I Think of Hagia Sophia, and I Am Very Saddened,’ Says Pope Francis

Following Turkish Court’s Ruling This Week

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Pope Francis has expressed his sadness over turning Hagia Sophia basilica back into a Mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey.

He did so following his Angelus greetings, yesterday Sunday, July 12, 2020, after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced his decision to do so and signed a decree to put it into effect.

The Pontiff recalled that the International Day of the Sea falls on the second Sunday in July, Francis noted that the sea carries him “a little farther away in my thoughts: to Istanbul.”

“I think of Hagia Sophia, and I am very saddened,” he said.

Nearly 1,500 years ago Hagia Sophia was built as a Christian cathedral. After the Ottoman conquest of 1453, it was turned into a mosque. In 1934, the Unesco World Heritage Site became a museum in 1934 under Turkish Republic founding father Ataturk.

Earlier this week, however, a Turkish court annulled the site’s museum status, “saying its use as anything other than a mosque was ‘not possible legally,’ reported BBC.

According to the source, Muslim prayers will begin there as early as July 24th.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio, Sky, and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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