Rome Newsroom, Jul 21, 2020 / 07:10 am America/Denver (CNA).
The president of Greece called Pope Francis Monday urging the pope to advocate for the preservation of the status quo regarding Hagia Sophia, which is due to be reverted to a mosque this week.
In a phone call July 20, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou told the pope that Turkey’s decision “deeply hurts those who consider this top symbol of Christianity to belong to humanity and the world’s cultural heritage,” according to a statement from the president’s office.
She said that the move should be “explicitly and unequivocally condemned” by the international community, and asked Pope Francis to help garner international support so that the Turkish leadership revokes its decision and restores Hagia Sophia to the status of a protected monument.
According to the Greek government communiqué, Pope Francis acknowledged the political motives of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision, which Sakellaropoulou described as diverting Turkey from the values of the secular state and the principles of tolerance and pluralism.
The pope also expressed his gratitude to Greece for its efforts in receiving refugees and migrants, and said he hoped that conditions would allow him to act on the president’s invitation to visit the country in 2021.