Pope ‘pained’ as landmark church to become a mosque
Pope Francis has said he is “pained” by Turkey’s decision to convert Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.
Speaking at the Vatican on Sunday, the Pontiff added that his “thoughts go to Istanbul”.
Hagia Sophia was built as a Christian cathedral nearly 1,500 years ago and turned into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of 1453.
The Unesco World Heritage Site became a museum in 1934 under Turkish Republic founding father Mustafa Ataturk.
But late last week, a Turkish court annulled the site’s museum status, saying its use as anything other than a mosque was “not possible legally”.
Pope Francis confined himself to a few words on the issue: “My thoughts go to Istanbul. I think of Santa Sophia and I am very pained.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the first Muslim prayers would be held in Hagia Sophia on July 24.
Shortly after the announcement, the first call to prayer was recited at the site and broadcast on all of Turkey’s main news channels. Hagia Sophia’s social media channels have also been taken down.
Francis puts five candidates a step closer to sainthood
Pope Francis has authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning five candidates for sainthood. Among the five decrees promulgated at the weekend, one is regarding a miracle and the rest are on heroic virtues.
A miracle has been recognised through the intercession Venerable Servant of God Maria Antonia Samà, an Italian layperson. She was born on March 2, 1875, in Sant’Andrea Jonio and died there on May 27, 1953. This clears her for beatification. As a child Venerable Maria was struck by a serious illness. Bed-ridden, she bore her suffering with faith and invited those visiting her to have Faith in God.
Pope Francis also authorised the promulgation of four decrees regarding the heroic virtues of the following candidates:
Servant of God Eusebio Francesco Chini (known as Kino), an Italian Jesuit priest who was born on August 10, 1645, in Segno, and died in Magdalena, Mexico, on 15 March 1711;
Servant of God Mariano José de Ibargüengoitia y Zuloaga of Spain, a diocesan priest who co-founded the Institute of the Servants of Jesus of Charity. Born in Bilbao on September 8, 1887, he died there on January 31, 1888;
Servant of God Maria Félix Torres of Spain, the foundress of the Company of the Saviour. She was born on August 25, 1907, in Albelda, and died in Madrid, on January 12, 2001;
Servant of God Angiolino Bonetta of Italy, a teenager belonging to the Association of Silent Workers of the Cross. He was born on September 18, 1948, in Cigole, and died there at the age of 14 on January 28, 1963.
Vatican: Seafarers deserve ‘esteem and gratitude’ during pandemic
The Vatican is highlighting the plight of maritime workers during the pandemic, saying bans on shore leave are severely stressing crews stuck aboard ship, some to the point of suicide.
Cardinal Peter A. Turkson, who heads a Vatican office dealing with issues of human development, said in a message on Sunday that maritime workers “really deserve our esteem and gratitude” for ensuring movement of goods for a “healthy global economy” while much of the world is in lockdown to combat spread of Covid-19 infection.
He said that tens of thousands of seafarers who were due to fly home for leave between long stints at sea were prevented from doing so due to lockdown rules.