Another 'clamorous' case of Bergoglian aphasia...
Pope spares 8 words
for Hagia Sophia
reverting to a mosque
by Jules Gomes
July 13, 2020
VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis broke his silence on Hagia Sophia at the end of his Angelus address Sunday to deliver a six-word non-condemnation of Islam's takeover of the world's greatest Byzantine basilica.
"I think of Hagia Sophia, and I am very saddened," is how Vatican News translated Francis's statement from the Italian: "Penso a Santa Sofia, e sono molto addolorato."
Francis began his post-Angelus address offering greetings for International Sea Day and after addressing seafarers for a few minutes, said: "And the sea takes me a little far with my thoughts: in Istanbul."
The Holy Father then dropped in six words — not counting a single letter preposition and conjunction — almost in parenthesis, on the historic crisis facing Hagia Sophia.
Francis added further greetings and ended his address wishing the audience "a good lunch."
Speaking to Church Militant, distinguished Islamic historian Robert Spencer blasted Francis's equivocation.
"The pope's tardy statement manifests a studied ambiguity," Spencer said. "What exactly is he saddened about? He doesn't say."
"Is he saddened because what was the foremost church in the Christian world for nearly a millennium, and the center of Eastern Christianity, has been made a mosque?" Spencer asked.
Or is he saddened because this act harms the dialogue he has so ardently pursued with the Islamic world — even at the price of silence over the Muslim persecution of Christians — and demonstrates that his dialogue partners are not remotely as interested in tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence as he likes to pretend that they are?
The author of the bestselling The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS
continued: "Has he made this unclear statement because he doesn't wish to say anything clearly in support of maintaining Hagia Sophia's status as a museum, for fear of offending those Muslim dialogue partners?"
"The conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque should be the occasion of some introspection on the pope's part, leading him to reconsider the value of a Muslim-Christian dialogue that has not prevented this expression of Islamic triumphalism and supremacism. But it almost certainly will not be," Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, concluded.
Church Militant has repeatedly called out Pope Francis for his silence on Hagia Sophia, pointing out the failure of the pontiff's controversial "Human Fraternity" pact with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb signed in February 2019.
The Islamic 'takeover' of Hagia Sophia violates the Abu Dhabi declaration, which calls for "the protection of places of worship — synagogues, churches and mosques" as "a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements."
Greece described Islam's occupation of Hagia Sophia as a "provocation to the civilized world" with culture minister Lina Mendoni pointing out that "the nationalism shown by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan takes his country back six centuries."
Francis, an unrelenting critic of Western nationalism, has never rebuked Erdoğan for his rabid Islamic nationalism.
Instead, in February 2018, the pope invited Erdoğan to the Vatican and gifted him with a symbol of peace at a time when Turkish forces were continuing their military offensive against Kurds in Syria.
The pontiff presented Erdoğan with a bronze medallion portraying an angel embracing the world while battling a dragon.
"For the first time since his election, I actually pity Francis," Catholic academic John Zmirak told Church Militant. "This timid squeak of distress about the profanation of one of Christendom's holiest places ... it might even come from the heart."
"Francis recalls to me one of the lost souls in C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce
, who may leave Hell if they wish. But they've built inextricable traps of pride, sloth, wrath, or other vices," the author of the The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism lamented.
"Francis has trapped himself in the Woke ideology of the post-Christian left. He cannot condemn abuses unless they're the fault of Designated Villains. That is, white, straight, orthodox Christian males," Dr. Zmirak explained.
"When Islamist Turks, or Chinese Communists, or secular abortion activists victimize the weak, Francis' mouth is stuffed. His Manichaean hatred of the West and its past renders him a moral idiot," Zmirak excoriated.
Earlier on Friday, the Orthodox Times
ran a scorching editorial on the Vatican's failure to speak out: "The unjustified silence of the Holy See and personally of Pope Francis on the burning issue of the conversion of the emblematic church of Hagia Sophia into a mosque causes concern and sadness in the Christian world."
"At a time when the whole world, both religiously and politically and academically, has taken a clear stand against Turkey's intention to once again defile the temple of the Wisdom of God, the loquacious and ever-sensitive bishop of Rome is … silent," it remonstrated.
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," the editorial observed, recalling Constantinople's conquest by Muslim invaders in 1453.
"Today, 560 years later, unfortunately, history repeats itself," the Orthodox journal lamented.
On June 18, Turkey's Catholic bishops expressed reluctance to speak out on the Muslim takeover of the museum.
"We are a Church that lacks legal status, so we cannot give advice on the internal affairs of this country," the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Turkey said.
"Although we would like the Hagia Sophia to maintain its character as a museum, we are not in position to intervene or even express our opinion on a decision that concerns exclusively the Turkish Republic," the bishops added.
Global religious and secular leaders condemned the verdict of Turkey's highest administrative court which paved the way for Hagia Sophia to return to its conquered status as a mosque.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew earlier warned if Hagia Sophia was made a mosque it would "push millions of Christians around the world against Islam" and "cause a break between the two worlds" of East and West.
"The concern of millions of Christians was not listened to," lamented Moscow Patriarchate's spokesman Vladimir Legoida.
Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church called it "a blow to world orthodoxy," while Archpriest Nikolai Balashov said the event "could have serious consequences for the entire human civilization."
Even the liberal World Council of Churches (WCC) denounced Turkey's decision, conveying "the grief and dismay" of its 350 member churches.
"By deciding to convert the Hagia Sophia back to a mosque you have reversed that positive sign of Turkey's openness and changed it to a sign of exclusion and division," a WCC statement said.
Pope Francis reticence on Hagia Sophia has been matched only by the silence of Anglican archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, a close ecumenical partner of the pontiff. On a visit to Istanbul in 2014, Welby categorically stated: "It [Hagia Sophia] should not become a mosque." But Welby, who hosted Grand Imam Al-Tayyeb at Lambeth Palace in 2018, has been tight-lipped on the Islamization of the basilica.
"Both Pope Francis and Abp. Welby claim to have established terrific relations with the world's most important Sunni Muslim leader. President Erdoğan is a Sunni Muslim. Why, then, have neither of them used their interfaith partnership with Al-Tayyeb to bring pressure on Erdoğan?" Church Militant asked a Shariah scholar.
"Because Islam, following the teaching of its prophet Muhammad, doesn't believe in honoring treaties with infidels," the scholar responded.
On Friday, the Council of State, Turkey's top court, annulled the 1934 decision of president Kemal Atatürk's cabinet to turn Hagia Sophia into a museum as part of his secularist reforms.
Immediately afterwards, President Erdoğan announced the resumption of Muslim prayers in Hagia Sophia from July 24.
Emperor Justinian the Great dedicated the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople to the Wisdom of God in 537. Sultan Mohammed II conquered Constantinople and converted the basilica into a mosque in 1453.
Museum to mosque:
Why Hagia Sophia matters
by Ines A. Murzaku
July 13, 2020
Canceling history has become popular these days. It started in America but has spread to Italy, Spain, England, Belgium, and most recently Turkey. Some of the main techniques involve toppling and desecrating monuments and statues that function as outdoor museums, which tell the history of the people who have made history. You can start to know the history of a city by exploring the statues and monuments in city parks and common areas.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan just joined the others by declaring his intention to convert the majestic Christian Basilica, Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom) – currently a national museum and one of the most visited sites of Turkey – into a mosque. And the Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative body, has decided he may do so.
What is the history behind Hagia Sophia?
[It] is distinguished by indescribable beauty, excelling both in its size, and in the harmony of its measures, having no part excessive and none deficient; being more magnificent than ordinary buildings, and much more elegant than those which are not of so just a proportion. The church is singularly full of light and sunshine; you would declare that the place is not lighted by the sun from without, but that the rays are produced within itself, such an abundance of light is poured into this church.
Procopius of Caesarea (circa 500-565 A.D.), a prominent Byzantine historian, described Hagia Sophia of Constantinople (now Istanbul) thus in his book De Aedificiis
(On Buildings), written around 554. He also credited the Emperor Justinian for promoting this magnificent work, among others.
Justinian’s church became an icon of Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The emperor was so pleased with the result that during its dedication ceremony in December 537, he exclaimed: “O Solomon, I have surpassed thee!” comparing the church to the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
For 900 years, Hagia Sophia was the center of the Byzantine Empire: the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople; the place where ecumenical councils were convened and emperors were crowned, and night vigils and majestic processions were held until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans on May 29, 1453.
Sultan Mehmet II, walking through the streets of the conquered city, “dismounted at the door of the church and bent down to take a handful of earth, which he then sprinkled over his turban as an act of humility before God.”
The sultan converted the Church of Hagia Sophia to the Great Mosque of Aya Sofya, which it remained until 1934, when a decree by the Turkish Republic’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, turned the building into a museum.
In 1985, UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization – declared it a World Heritage Site.
Why does keeping the museum status of Hagia Sophia matter?
It matters to history and it matters to people, both Christians and Muslims. It is important to preserve memory, and museums and statues are proven to be preservers of culture and religion – of what deserves to be kept, remembered, treasured, and transmitted to future generations.
As a remembrance of both the Church of Hagia Sophia and the Mosque of Aya Sofya, the museum has had a proven legitimacy. The museum has not only served as a record of centuries-old history but also as a transmitter of knowledge from the Byzantine-Roman and Ottoman Empires to the Turkish Republic of Atatürk. This magnificent, once-religious object is a visible and tangible reminder of empires and religions of the Mediterranean world, beautifully synthesized on this site.
Since early in his political career, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regretted Atatürk’s conversion of the Mosque of Aya Sofya into a museum. Instead, he prefers to cancel more than 900 years of Christian history, to the great consternation of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, the Russian Patriarch Kirill, and Pope Francis.
For Bartholomew I, Hagia Sophia is a holy site in which East and West have embraced, and the cancellation of this memory will cause a sharp break between these two worlds. By keeping its status as a museum, the site would continue to serve as an example of solidarity and mutual understanding between Christianity and Islam.
Patriarch Kirill of Russia considers the conversion of the Hagia Sophia museum to a mosque to be a threat to Christianity. In a recent interview with Interfax, Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, expressed disappointment with Erdogan’s cancel-history attitude, saying: “Hagia Sophia is a world heritage site. It is not without reason that the talks about changing its status have shaken the whole world, and especially the Christian world. The church is devoted to Christ, Sophia the Wisdom of God is one of the names of Christ.”
Just this weekend, Pope Francis, who has gone out of his way to cultivate relations with Muslims, spoke out with uncharacteristic frankness [???]
: “My thoughts go to Istanbul. I’m thinking about Hagia Sophia. I am very distressed.”
History cannot be destroyed, canceled, or changed. Even some Turks have objected to their president’s efforts to make it into a single, false story.
For Catholics, history bears a transcendent meaning, a message to convey and a lesson to be learned – and the historian is called to discern the roots of that meaning. History is not linear or ideological – or, far worse, to be used for political purposes – but continually calls for new reflection and fresh analysis, so that the past is revisited and mistakes are not repeated.
The great Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote in De Oratore
, Historia magistra vitae est
(“History is life’s teacher”). History, its monuments and museums, should not be destroyed or canceled, especially in an effort to dominate the present. They have a right to speak to us – and be heard.
As for Hagia Sophia, time will tell how the cancel-history fashion will play out in Turkey. For now, it appears that Muslim prayers will once again be heard on July 27 in the most magnificent structure of the Eastern Church.
Some of the great mosaics of Hagia Sophia:
The Imperial Gate mosaic: Leo VI bows before Christ Pantocrator (the Almighty). The insets are Mary and the Archangel Gabriel.
The Southwest Entrance mosaic: Justinian I, left, offers a model of Hagia Sophia, and onstantine I, right, offers a model of the city to the Theotokos (Mother of God).
Top left, The Empress Zoe mosaic: Constantine IX Monomachos, left, and his Empress, Zoe, offer a money purse and a parchment of donation to the Pantocrator; bottom left, The Comnenos mosaic: Similar to the Empress Zoe mosaic, but this time, it is John II Comnenos and his Empress, Irene, making their offerings to the Theotokos; right, the great Theotokos mosaic in the apse over the main altar.
One may better appreciate the scale of the mosaics if one considers the dimensions of Hagia Sophia: 269 ft long by 240 ft wide by 180 ft high (27 stories by 24 stories by 18 stories).