07/12/2020, 13.32
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Pope: ‘I think of Hagia Sophia and I am very pained’

During the Angelus, Pope Francis expressed the pain of the Holy See for the decision to turn Istanbul’s Christian basilica into a mosque. He mentions "four different types of ground" that receive "the Word of God ... Christ himself". For him, the Virgin Mary is a “perfect model of good and fertile ground ". Today is the International Day of the Sea.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis spoke after Angelus prayer about the decision by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to turn the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, on 24 July. His thoughts turned “to Istanbul", the pontiff said: "I think of Hagia Sophia and I am very pained."

This very simple and understated remark expresses the pain of the Holy See, as well as of Orthodox Christians and many people in the western world. It is the first and, so far, only opinion on the matter from the Holy See, hitherto criticised by many for its silence.

Earlier, Pope Francis spoke about "four different types of ground” cited in the Parable of the Sower, as relayed by Jesus in today's gospel (Matthew 13:1-23), the different "types" of ground that receive "the Word of God ... Christ himself.”

The first type is “a path, where birds immediately come and eat the seeds. It is distraction, a great danger of our time. Harassed by so much chatter, so many ideologies, the continuous possibilities of distraction inside and outside the home, one can lose the taste for silence, recollection, dialogue with the Lord, so much so that one risks losing one’s faith.”

The second is the "rocky ground,” Francis said. “This is the image of the momentary enthusiasm that, however, remains superficial, that does not assimilate the Word of God. So, faced with the first difficulties, sufferings, or disturbances of life, this feeble faith dissolves, like the seed that falls in among the rocks.”

The third is the "ground where thorny bushes grow. The thorns are the deception of wealth, success, worldly concerns [. . .]. There, the Word is smothered and bears no fruit.”

“Lastly, we can receive it like good soil. Here, and only here, does the seed take root and bear fruit. The seed that falls on fertile ground represents those who listen to the Word, receive it, keep it in their hearts and put it into practice in everyday life.”

The Word of God, he added, “is a fruitful and effective seed; and God scatters it everywhere with generosity, prodigally. So is the heart of God!”

“If we want, with the grace of God, we can become good soil, tilled and cultivated with care, to mature the seed of the Word. It is already present in our heart, but making it bear fruit depends on us; it depends on how we receive the seed.”

Unfortunately, ““We are often distracted by too many interests, by too many calls, and it is difficult to distinguish, among so many voices and so many words, that of the Lord, the only one who sets us free.”

The Pope renewed his call to the faithful to read a short passage from the Gospel every day, to "get used to" listening to the Word of God.

"May the Virgin Mary, perfect model of a good and fertile ground, help us, with her prayer, to become ready ground without thorns or rocks, so that we can bring good fruit for ourselves and our brothers.”

After the Marian prayer, Francis noted that today, the second Sunday of July, is International Day of the Sea.

"I extend an affectionate greeting,” he said, “to all those who work in the sea, especially those who are far from their loved ones and their country. I greet all those who have gathered this morning in the port of Civitavecchia-Tarquinia for the Eucharistic celebration.”

For this occasion, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development today released a message and a prayer.

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