Pope ‘very distressed’ over Turkey’s Hagia Sophia conversion to mosque

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VATICAN CITY, Holy See — Pope Francis said Sunday he was “very distressed” over Turkey’s decision to convert the Byzantine-era monument Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.

“My thoughts go to Istanbul. I’m thinking about Hagia Sophia. I am very distressed,” the pope said in the Vatican’s first reaction to a decision that has drawn international criticism.

The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano had on Saturday carried reactions from different countries about Friday’s decision to turn the monument from a museum back into a mosque but without any comment.

A magnet for tourists worldwide, the Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian B…

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