Rome, 12 July 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Pope Francis said on Sunday that he had been “saddened” by Turkey’s decision this week to reopen Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia museum as a mosque.
“I think of Hagia Sophia and I am deeply saddened,” Francis said after the traditional Angelus prayer in Rome on Sunday.
He did not comment any further on the controversial decision.
The pontiff’s comments come the day after Turkish authorities started inspections at the Hagia Sophia for logistical preparations to make the former museum compatible with Islamic prayers.
On Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the sixth-century building is being re-converted into a mosque, shortly after a court decision to that end.
The president said the site will be opened to Muslim worshippers on July 24 for the first time since 1934, when the founders of the secular republic made it a museum.