ERBIL — Pope Francis said on Sunday that he was “very pained” by Turkey’s recent decision to turn the landmark Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul into a mosque.
“My thoughts go to Istanbul. I think of Santa Sophia and I am very pained,” Pope Francis said during his weekly blessing in St. Peter’s Square
A Turkish court approved government’s order to revoke Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum last week after weeks of debate and international calls to avoid the move.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said the first prayers would be held in Hagia Sophia on July 24.
Greece has condemned the move and UNESCO said its World Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia’s status and that Turkey’s decision raised questions about the impact on its universal value as a site of importance transcending borders and generations.