Saturday, July 11, 2020



 ROME – After receiving sharp criticism in recent days for not speaking out about protests in Hong Kong and the recent decision to revert Turkey’s famed Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque, Pope Francis Sunday broke his silence on the latter, calling himself “pained” by the decision.

Pope Francis: 'I think of Hagia Sophia, and I am very saddened'

Pope Francis, following the recitation of the Marian Prayer and recalling Sea Sunday, also made reference to the Basilica of Hagia Sophia, recently transformed into a mosque.
By Vatican News
On the second Sunday in July the International Day of the Sea is observed. Recalling the celebration at the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis extended “an affectionate greeting to all those who work at sea, especially those who are far from their loved ones and their country.”

He also had a particular greeting for those who gathered on Sunday morning in the Italian port of Civitavecchia-Tarquinia for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Hagia Sophia

Dwelling on the sea, the Pope said it made him think about what is happening in Istanbul.
This week President Tayyip Erdogan announced his decision to turn the Hagia Sophia museum back into a mosque.
“I think of Hagia Sophia”, said Pope Francis, “and I am very saddened.”

This 1,500 year old cathedral built and consecrated in Constantinople prior to the Great Schism is to the Church of the East, today mostly Eastern Orthodox, what St. Peter’s Basilica is to the Church of the West, mostly Latin Rite.

Press title for complete Crux article.

Turkey reverts Hagia Sophia to mosque despite Orthodox pleas

Built under Byzantine Emperor Justinian, the 1,500-year-old structure for centuries was the heart of the Eastern Church, serving as the Byzantine Empire’s main cathedral. It was converted into a mosque following the capture of Constantinople, now called Istanbul, by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.

The Vatican has not commented on the decision, and several Orthodox publications, including the Orthodox Times, have criticized the pope’s “sad silence” on the issue.
Vatican News calls this Christian Shrine a Basilica and then reports just the facts with no Vatican or papal commentary showing solidarity with Eastern Orthodox leaders:

File photo of Hagia Sopha in InstanbulFile photo of Hagia Sopha in Instanbul  (AFP or licensors)

Turkey: Hagia Sophia Basilica to become mosque

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decrees that the Basilica of Hagia Sophia will become a mosque once again, following a ruling from the Council of State.

By Nathan Morley
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree on Friday ordering the historic Hagia Sophia to be opened for Muslim prayers as of 24 July.
The decree followed a ruling from Turkey’s top administrative court which revoked Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum, saying the ancient building's conversion was illegal.
Since 1934, the building has been a living example of religious harmony in the form of stone. In recent years it has become the most popular tourist attraction in Turkey, drawing over 3.5 million visitors during 2019.

Long history

Hagia Sophia was built by the Byzantine Christian Emperor Justinian in 537 and dedicated to Divine Wisdom.
After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the basilica was converted into a mosque and the city renamed Istanbul.
In 1934, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of the Republic of Turkey, turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, which later became a UNESCO world heritage site.

Warning from Patriarch Bartholomew

Reacting to the basilica’s conversion back to a mosque, the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople lamented the decision. He said Hagia Sophia belongs not only to those who own it at the moment but to all humanity.
“The Turkish people have the great responsibility and honour to make the universality of this wonderful monument shine,” he said, adding that as a museum it serves as a “symbolic place of encounter, dialogue, solidarity and mutual understanding between Christianity and Islam.”
Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians, further warned conversation would “push millions of Christians around the world against Islam.”

Patriarch of Moscow

Earlier in the week, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill also expressed concerns that turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque was a threat to Christianity.
“The concerns expressed by millions of Christians were not listened to,” he said.

World heritage

For their part, UNESCO said that the building is inscribed on its world heritage list as a museum, which binds the Turkish state to ensure that “no modification is made to the outstanding universal value of the property.”

Athens: ‘Regretful development’

Over in Athens, the Greek Prime Minister said the conversion would be an affront to its ecumenical character.
“Furthermore, it is a decision that offends all those who recognize Hagia Sophia as an indispensable part of world cultural heritage,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
“This decision clearly affects not only Turkey's relations with Greece, but also its relations with the European Union, UNESCO, and the world community as a whole. It is a truly regretful development that the Turkish leadership, after working for the Alliance of Civilizations in 2005, has now taken the decision to reverse course.”

EU disappointment

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Joseph Borrell, the European Union’s Foreign Minister, expressed disappointment at the development.
“The ruling by the Turkish Council of State to overturn one of modern Turkey’s landmark decisions and President Erdogan’s decision to place the monument under the management of the Religious Affairs Presidency is regrettable,” Borrell said.

Turkey deflects criticism

Turkish President Erdogan defended the decision, saying all criticism is “an attack against our independence.”
He said Turkey had exercised its sovereign right to convert Hagia Sophia back to a mosque.


Mark Thomas said...

Vicious, anti-Pope-Francis mutineers, such as those at Rorate Caeli, have attacked the Vicar of Christ for his supposed "silence" in regard to the Hagia Sophia/mosque story.

The mutineers don't have any idea as to any behind-the-scene action that Pope Francis may have taken with Turkey. They have insisted that Pope Francis' supposed "silence" concerns his lack of "guts" in regard to confronting Turkey.

I guess that said folks have forgotten that in 2015 A.D., Pope Francis enraged Turkish leaders when His Holiness labeled the mass killing of Armenians under Ottoman rule in as "genocide."

What is two-faced in regard to mutineers' the attack on Pope Francis in regard to Hagia Sophia is that the mutineers years ago declared Pope Francis "irrelevant."

Nobody pays attention supposedly to Pope Francis, according to the mutineers. The mutineers have declared that Catholics are free to resist Pope Francis' Magisterium.

But suddenly, the mutineers, who resist Pope Francis' authority to teach, govern, and sanctify them, have demanded that His Holiness pronounce upon the Hagia Sophia/mosque situation.

One day the mutineers demand that Pope Francis "shut up." The next day, they demand that Pope Francis speak.

One day, the mutineers declare that we are free to resist Pope Francis...the next day, the mutineers demand that Pope Francis lecture Turkey in regard to Hagia Sophia.

Anything to attack Pope Francis.


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

But, you can't criticize President Erdogan's decision!

President Trump has let it be known that President Erdogan is a "great ally" in November 2019. If Trump said it, it must be true!

President Trump said of Erdogan, "I'm a big fan of the president!" Trump is a big fan of Erdogan, you must be one as well!

In 2017, President Trump said that Erdogan "has become a great friend of mine! I think now we're as close as we've ever been." You can't criticize a great friend of President Trump!

That same year Trump said of Erdogan, "He's a great leader!"

But wait, there's more! Trump: "I just want to thank and congratulate, though, President Erdogan. He’s a friend of mine and I’m glad we didn’t have a problem because frankly, he’s a hell of a leader. And he’s a tough man. He’s a strong man. And he did the right thing and I really appreciate it and I will appreciate it in the future.”

So, if Erdogan wants a mosque, and he does, and if Erdogan is Trump's bestie, you ought not complain or they'll accuse you of suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mark, the mutineers are getting under your skin even when Crux, which is not opposed to Francis points out the obvious and even Pope Francis’ removing from his written text condemnation of what the Chinese authorities are doing to Hong Kong at last Sunday’s Angelus. Keep in mind the reporters had that written text with the condemnation. No explanation as to why the pope did so leaving himself open Tarik conspiracy theories.

Anonymous must have Trump derangement syndrome, mixes apples 🍎 and oranges 🍊.

Anonymous said...

If you don't love Trump and Trump's friends like Erdogan and Roger Stone, you are not a true, patriotic 'Murican!

Put them apples and oranges in your pipe and smoke 'em!

Anonymous said...

Pope Francis sides with the Red Chinese and Radical Islam. Shocker

Mark Thomas said...

"...several Orthodox publications, including the Orthodox Times, have criticized the pope’s “sad silence” on the issue."

The Orthodox Times said that "...this is the second time in the history of Hagia Sophia that a global appeal has been made for its protection, and unfortunately Rome prefers not to get involved.

"As it did in 1453 when, despite Byzantine appeals for help, the army never arrived from the West, allowing Mehmed II to eventually conquer Constantinople and, of course, Hagia Sophia, which he converted into a mosque.

"Today, 560 years later, unfortunately, history repeats itself."

It is always Rome's fault.


Mark Thomas

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mark this article makes a very true or factual historical analysis. Rome has indeed been at fault many times in history and also how it handled Martin Luther and of course the sale of indulgences to build St. Peter's. It is good when the Church comes clean about religious and political errors.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

And of course there is the sex abuse scandal and Rome's miserable track record to this day.

Anonymous said...

What is really pathetic is that we have a “priest” posting anonymously suffering from TDS but adoring the Abortion Party, now also the Rioting and Looting Party

Anonymous said...

Father McDonald! I didn't know you smoked a pipe!😊

Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald, the mutineers aren't getting under my skin. I noted simply that they have demanded that Pope Francis lecture Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in regard to Hagia Sophia/mosque situation.

The mutineers reject Pope Francis' Magisterium. They have refused Pope Francis' God-given authority to "lecture" them. They have insisted that Pope Francis is "irrelevant." They have tuned out Pope Francis. They have told him to "shut up."

Suddenly, they demand that Pope Francis wield his moral authority and good will status that he enjoys to, in turn, lecture Erdoğan.


Mark Thomas

Victor said...

Are the Turks now going to whitewash the remaining frescos and wall paintings of saints in the basilica? Clearly for the Turks, the transformation is a powerful symbol of the victory of the great and mighty Islam over the infidel Christians. When will Notre-Dame in Paris be next, 50 years? Allahu akbar!

Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald said..."Mark this article makes a very true or factual historical analysis."


In regard to The Orthodox Times' criticism of Pope Francis' supposed "silence" in regard to Sophia Hagia:

It may be that His Holiness has contacted Turkish officials. He may have worked behind the scene. Pope Francis may speak publicly about the issue at hand.

Who is to say that there is a sure and certain way that Pope Francis should approach the Hagia Sophia situation?

But of course, Pope Francis is always wrong. His critics, such as those among the Eastern Orthodox, are always right.


Father McDonald said..."Rome has indeed been at fault many times in history and also how it handled Martin Luther and of course the sale of indulgences to build St. Peter's. It is good when the Church comes clean about religious and political errors."

Father, it is good when you come clean about your errors. It is good when I come clean about my errors.

It is good when, if you will, Luther comes clean about his errors...when the SSPX acknowledges it's errors...when Eastern Orthodox acknowledge their errors.

Let us explore Pope Venerable Pius XII (his supposed sympathy to Nazi Germany).

Let us explore Pope Venerable Pius XII's role in the radical reform of the Roman Liturgy.

Let us explore the Church's history. Fine.

But no matter what, Rome's critics (Luther, Archbishop Lefebvre, Eastern Orthodox, non-Catholics) will always be right...Rome/Holy Mother Church will always be wrong.

Father McDonald, your critics will always be right. You will always be wrong.

That is the way that the game is played. :-)


Mark Thomas

Vatican Zero said...

Why would Pope Francis complain about turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque? Isn't he the pope who has assured us that God wills all this religious diversity?

rcg said...

Erdogan has been straddling the fence between Islam and the secular military for a while. This is probably a response to what is going on in Syria and Iraq as a repudiation of Western activity.

The reaction, or lack of it, from our Church is predictable.

Mark Thomas said...

Father McDonald said..."And of course there is the sex abuse scandal and Rome's miserable track record to this day."

Father, that is your opinion. I disagree with your opinion in question. But millions of people share your opinion. Millions of people share my opinion.


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

This is about to become the ultimate ecumenical wreckovation. Under Islam those images of Mary and the Christ Child will not survive in a mosque. To think it started with the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan in Afganitan, moved to the destruction of ancient sites in Syria, migrated to the destruction of statues in the USA and now this.

Anonymous said...

Mark Thomas,

LOL. No, millions do NOT share your opinion. It probably numbers in the hundreds at best.

rcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcg said...

I think Fr. McDonald’s point is to morn squandered moral authority.

Mark Thomas said...

Anonymous, even after years of lies concocted to defame attempt to pin the non-existent sexual abuse scandal, perceived to be widespread throughout the Church — only a microscopic amount of priests have been shown to have abused others sexually — surveys found that millions of Catholics, for example, in the U.S., insisted that Pope Francis had handled the sexual abuse "scandal" in proper fashion.

In fact, national surveys conducted prior to such coordinated events as Archbishop Viganò's attacks upon Pope Francis, as well as pieces of trash such as the Pennsylvania Report, that was heaped unfairly upon Pope Francis, reported that nearly 50 percent of Catholics insisted that Pope Francis had handled the sexual abuse "scandal" in good to excellent fashion.


In 2020 A.D., even after years of coordinated, vicious lies and attacks designed to defame him, national surveys reported that the overwhelming amount of Catholics viewed Pope Francis in favorable fashion.

April, 2020 A.D.

-- 77 percent of Catholics in America view Pope Francis favorably

The overwhelming majority of Catholics stand with our holy and great Culture of Life Vicar of Christ - Pope Francis.

God calls us to stand with our holy priests - from our holy parish priests, to such holy men as Father McDonald, to Pope Francis.

Although I am a lousy sinner, and a nobody, I stand with Rome, and each holy priest in communion with Rome.


Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

Mark Thomas,

You may want to consider this from NPR, not a glowing report card:

"Pope Francis, whose humility and warmth made him highly popular among U.S. Catholics and non-Catholics alike, is now rated no more favorably than his somewhat aloof predecessor, Pope Benedict.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows that roughly half of the U.S. public still says it has a favorable view of Pope Francis. That is down sharply, however, from early 2015, when 7 of 10 Americans saw him favorably. It puts Francis on a par with Benedict, who, according to Pew, was seen favorably by 49 percent of Americans when he resigned the papacy in 2013.

The declining confidence in Francis is clearly related to the sex abuse scandal in the church. More than one-third of U.S. Catholics rate his handling of the crisis as "poor" in the latest survey, triple the share who said that in 2015. Just 3 in 10 Catholics say Francis has done an "excellent" or "good" job addressing the abuse scandal, down about 24 percentage points from 2015 and down 14 points from January of this year, when Pew researchers last asked the question."

I would like to see a post McCarrick survey

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

On his defense, the Holy Father is approaching 84 years old. Given the fact of his eccentricities, he could be more vulnerable to the onslaught of dementia. It was thought in his latter years, Pope Pious XII also suffered somewhat from this.

More concerning, though, is the fact that Pope Francis has surrounded himself with people who have an ideological agenda out of continuity with the emeritus Pope and settling scores and evidently can manipulate Pope Francis, especially as he ages.

Anonymous said...

Father do you really think he is vulnerable to manipulation? That's an angle I never thought about at all. He certainly seems to have his own ideas.

Anonymous said...

Istanbul is a beautiful city and the tour of Hagia Sophia definitely worth it, but the politics of Turkey leave a lot to be desired!

I think "60 Minutes" had a story a few years ago on the ecumenical patriarch and the restrictions under which he operates.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

A very candid assessment of the Pope’s coterie. We will survive this. By the way, I noticed this morning a decided shift in the reception of Holy Communion at my little country church. Probably close to half of the congregation received Holy Communion on the tongue, including children and young adults. When I started going there 7 years ago, it was probably 1-2 percent of us that did. Could this possibly be a Covid miracle?

Anonymous said...

Again Islam is not and I repeat not a religion of peace! Islam is a military force based on brutal conquest it always has been. It does not tolerate Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Homosexuality, abortion, feminism, rock music or any music, pork, I can speak of this for I came from Iraq as a Chaldean Catholic refugee and yes Islam cannot be trusted there religion allows them to lie and spread falsehoods to trick the non believers, the Quran states this clearly anyone can read it plain and simple. I plead with all of you do not trust Islam not Muslims in general but the religion itself!! I know firsthand how the will kill you I lived it my friends.

Anonymous said...

Mark Thomas your 77% is absolutely false sir! Good try but this Papacy is a complete and utter disaster I shan’t say anything nasty but again your wrong sir.

Mark Thomas said...

Anonymous, it is not "my" 77 percent. It is the Pew Research Center's 77 percent.

-- Pew Research Center. April 3, 2020 A.D.

-- Three-quarters of U.S. Catholics view Pope Francis favorably



Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

Speaking of religions of peace, my friends:

"And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men" (50,070) Samuel 6:19

"When two men are fighting and the wife of one intervenes to save her husband from the blows of his opponent, if she stretches out her hand and seizes the latter by his genitals, you shall chop off her hand; show no pity." Deuteronomy 25:11-12

"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again." Exodus 21: 7-8

Plain and Simple.

Anonymous said...

Polls and percentages don't mean jack.

It doesn't matter how many people agree with something or disagree to determine whether it is right or wrong.

Postconciliar reasoning.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:43,

True and far less people are going to Mass since PF was elected. There was no positive "Francis Effect" that the left was predicting. His leadership during the China Flu crisis has been almost non-existent

John Nolan said...

The Pope may be first and foremost a spiritual leader, but the Holy See has always been a diplomatic player (although it probably exaggerates its influence on the world stage).

Pace Mark Thomas, a Catholic is in no way obliged to agree with the foreign policy of the Holy See. Paul VI's and Casaroli's 'Ostpolitik' was surely misguided. It did little or nothing to improve the lot of Catholics behind the Iron Curtain and had the effect of allowing Communist infiltration of the Vatican. This was recognized by Cardinal Wyszynski, the venerable Primate of Poland, and the dynamic young Archbishop of Cracow, Karol Wojtyla. The latter's elevation to the papacy in 1978 marked a change in policy.

Th current policy with regard to China has also been criticized, and justifiably so.

As for Hagia Sophia, Pope Francis was probably advised by his Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin to say nothing to start with, which would upset the Orthodox (and Vladimir Putin) but would not antagonize Erdogan and the wider Islamic world, with which PF is anxious to build bridges. Eventually, he had to break his silence or lose credibility as a Christian spiritual leader.