The Hagia Sophia, a religious structure built as a church in 537 and previously also used as a mosque, will again host Islamic prayer services for the first tie in 80 years beginning Friday, July 24, 2020 following a decree signed by Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on July 10, 2020. For the past several decades, the Hagia Sophia has been a museum.
In response to this action, on July 12, Pope Francis expressed his sorrow in prayer following the Angelus. Orthodox Christians in Greece and the United States declared July 24 a day of mourning. In solidarity, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops joined and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, released a statement.