Pope Francis said that saddened by the situation around the St. Sophia Cathedral, which by the decision of the Turkish authorities returned to the status of the mosque.

"Think of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and I am very saddened," said the Pontiff during the traditional Sunday sermon at St. Peter’s square.

On 10 July the Turkish Council of State cancelled the decree of the government of 1934 to give the Hagia Sophia and the status of the Museum. Then, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree according to which in Ayia Sofia will resume Muslim worship.

A number of local Christian churches, including the Russian Orthodox Church, expressed his regret with the decision. The same reaction followed from UNESCO. Hagia Sophia, built in the VI century BC and is a monument of Byzantine architecture, 1985 was included in the world heritage of UNESCO.

Until now the Holy see did not give any assessment decision of the Turkish authorities. The Vatican media, including newspaper L’osservatore Romano, reported only about the fact of changing the status of a Cathedral.