The Hagia Sophia was built in the sixth century during the Christian Byzantine Empire and served as the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church. It was converted into an imperial mosque with the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453. The structure was converted into a museum during the strictly secular single-party rule in 1935, but there have been discussions around converting it back to a mosque, with public demands to restore it as a place of worship gaining traction on social media.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday voiced the possibility of reverting the Hagia Sophia, which has been used as a museum since 1935 and is considered one of the world’s wonders, to a mosque.
“This is not unlikely. We might even change its name to Ayasofya Mosque,” Erdoğan said during a live interview with Turkish broadcaster TGRT.
France has seen a spate of attacks against Catholic churches since the start of the year, vandalism that has included arson and desecration. Vandals have smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, scattered or destroyed the Eucharist and torn down crosses, sparking fears of a rise in anti-Catholic sentiment in the country.
The Vienna-based Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, which was founded in cooperation with the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE) but is now independent said there had been a 25 percent increase in attacks on Catholic churches in the first two months of the year, compared with the same time last year.
Its executive director, Ellen Fantini, told Newsweek that while in many cases the motive for the attacks was not known, France faced growing problems with anti-Christian violence, especially by anarchist and feminist groups.
The Vatican on March 29 announced the release of three documents: criminal laws for the Vatican city-state, guidelines for the vicariate the covers the two parishes within the Vatican, and a motu proprio applying these rules to members of the Roman Curia and to all members of the Vatican diplomatic corps.
The new rules apply only to the territory of Vatican City, where only a handful of children reside. But the legislation clearly sets high standards for handling abuse complaints. The documents emphasize the rights of victims, require officials to treat all complaints seriously and respond quickly, and commit the Vatican to providing support for victims.
The new regulations come a month after a Vatican “summit meeting” on sexual abuse, which brought together the leaders of all the world’s episcopal conferences. The editorial director of the Vatican’s communications dicastery, Andrea Tornielli, said that the Vatican’s norms now set a standard for proper handling of the matter.