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Last Update: 11/15/2007 8:47 AM
11/11/2006 4:32 PM
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As the Vatican site stillhas not posted a map to help orient readers/viewers geographically on th Turkey trip,
I have taken the liberty of getting this graphic from Beatrice's web site on the Pope,

November 28 - December 1, 2006


Tuesday, November 28

Fiumicino (Rome)
09.00 Depart from Leonardi da Vinci airport for Ankara


13.00 Arrive at Esemboga international airport






Wednesday, November 29





Thursday, November 30







Friday, December 1

- Homily


13.15 Depart for Rome

Ciampino (Rome)

14.45 Arrive at Ciampino airport

NOTE: Turkish time is one hour ahead of Italian time.
Note also that no times are given for the events (except for the arrival in Ankara
and the departure from Istanbul), nor on how the Holy Father will be going from
Ankara to Ephesus to Istanbul.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 23/11/2006 22.52]

11/11/2006 4:55 PM
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The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has opened this site for the visit:

It currently contains all you need to know about the Patriarchate itself and about Bartholomew I.
It also has a brief biography of Benedict XVI.

Here is what it says about the Patriarchate by way of introduction:


The Phanar, seat of the Patriarchate in Istanbul.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the highest see and holiest center of the Orthodox Christian Church
throughout the world.

It is an institution with a history spanning seventeen centuries, during which it retained
its see in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul).

It constitutes the center of all the local Orthodox Churches, heading these not by administration
but by virtue of its primacy in the ministry of pan-Orthodox unity and the coordination of the
activity of the whole of Orthodoxy.

The function of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as center par excellence of the life of the entire
Orthodox world emanates from its centuries-old ministry in the witness, protection and outreach of
the Orthodox faith. The Ecumenical Patriarchate therefore possesses a supra-national and
supra-regional character.

From this lofty consciousness and responsibility for the people of Christ, regardless of race and
language, were born the new regional Churches of the East, from the Caspian to the Baltic, and from
the Balkans to Central Europe. This activity today extends to the Far East, to America and Australia.

Orthodox Christians on all continents, which do not fall under the jurisdiction of the autocephalous
(independent) or autonomous (semi-independent) Churches, fall under the direct jurisdiction of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The most important of the autocephalous Churches are the ancient Patriarchates of Alexandria,
Antioch and Jerusalem (together with the ancient Archdiocese of Mt. Sinai), the Patriarchates of
Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia, as well as the Churches of Cyprus, Greece, Poland,
Albania, and the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia.

The Autonomous Churches include those of Finland and of Estonia.

Consequently, the Orthodox Churches in Europe, America, Australia and Britain, which are not
under the jurisdiction of the aforementioned autocephalous Churches, lie within the jurisdiction
of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

All Orthodox feel that they are constituents of one essentially spiritual community, wherein “when one
member suffers, so do all.” It is a true sense of unity in diversity.

BARTHOLOMEW, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the primary ecclesiastical centre of the Orthodox Church
throughout the world, tracing its history to the Day of Pentecost and the early Christian
communities founded by the Apostles of Jesus Christ.

According to tradition, the “First-Called” of these Apostles, Andrew, preached the Gospel
around Asia Minor, the Black Sea, Thrace and Achaia, where he was martyred.

In 36 AD, he founded the Church on the shores of the Bosphorus in the city known then
as Byzantium, later Constantinople and today Istanbul. St. Andrew is the Patron Saint
of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; his Patronal Feast is Celebrated on November 30.

The title “Ecumenical Patriarch” dates from the sixth century and historically belongs to the
Archbishop of Constantinople exclusively.

As Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew occupies
the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church worldwide, presiding in historical honor and
fraternal spirit among all Orthodox Primates. These include the ancient Patriarchates of Alexandria,
Antioch and Jerusalem, as well as the more recent Patriarchates of Moscow, Serbia, Romania,
Bulgaria and Georgia.

Beyond these, the Ecumenical Patriarch has the historical and theological responsibility to
initiate and coordinate activity among the Orthodox Churches of Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Albania,
the Czech Land and Slovakia, Finland, Estonia, as well as various Archdioceses and numerous
Metropolitan dioceses throughout the world, such as in Europe, America and Australia.

Moreover, he is responsible for convening pan-Orthodox councils or meetings, facilitating inter-
church and inter-faith dialogues, while serving as the focal point and primary spokesman for
Orthodox Church unity as a whole. Transcending national and ethnic borders, the Ecumenical
Patriarch is spiritual leader to some 300 million Orthodox Christians world-wide.

Born Demetrios Archondonis in 1940 on the island of Imvros (today, Gokceada, Turkey),
His All Holiness Bartholomew was elected in October 1991 as the 270th Archbishop of the
2000-year-old Church founded by St. Andrew, serving as Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome,
and Ecumenical Patriarch.

The personal experience and theological formation of the Ecumenical Patriarch provide him
with a unique perspective on ecumenical relations and environmental issues.

His All Holiness has worked tirelessly for reconciliation among Christian Churches and acquired
an international reputation for raising environmental awareness throughout the world.

He has worked to advance reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion,
as well as other confessions, through theological dialogues and personal encounters with respective
leaders in order to address issues of common concern.

Closely involved with the World Council of Churches, he has served on its Executive and Central
Committees and Faith and Order Commission.

Moreover, he has initiated numerous international meetings and conversations with Muslim
and Jewish leaders in an effort to promote mutual respect and religious tolerance on
a global level, thereby proving a pioneer in interfaith encounters throughout the world.

Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch has also presided over the historic restoration of the
Autocephalous Church of Albania and the Autonomous Church of Estonia, providing spiritual and
moral support to many traditional Orthodox countries emerging from decades of wide-scale
religious persecution behind the Iron Curtain.

A citizen of Turkey, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received his elementary and secondary e
ducation in Imvros and Istanbul. After completing undergraduate studies at the Theological School
of Halki, Istanbul, His All Holiness pursued graduate studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute
of the Gregorian University in Rome, the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey (Switzerland) and the
University of Munich.

His doctoral dissertation was in Canon Law; he was a founding member of the Society of Canon Law
of the Oriental Churches.

Ordained to the Diaconate in 1961 and to the Priesthood in 1969, he served as Assistant Dean
at the Theological School of Halki (1968-72) before being appointed Personal Secretary to
his predecessor, the late Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios (1972-90), as well as being elected
Metropolitan of Philadelphia (1973) and, later, Metropolitan of Chalcedon (1990).

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew holds numerous honorary doctorates, from prestigious
academic institutions such as the universities of Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras and Ioannina
(in Greece), Georgetown and Yale (in the USA), Flinders and Manila (in Australasia), London,
Edinburgh, Louvain, Moscow, Bologna and Bucharest (in Europe).

He speaks contemporary Greek, Turkish, Italian, German, French and English; he is also fluent
in classical Greek and Latin.

The role of the Ecumenical Patriarch as the primary spiritual leader of the Orthodox Christian
world and transnational figure of global significance continues to grow increasingly vital.

His All Holiness has co-sponsored international peace conferences, as well as meetings
on the subjects of racism and fundamentalism, bringing together Christians, Muslims and
Jews for the purpose of generating greater cooperation and mutual understanding.

He has been invited to address the European Parliament, UNESCO, the World Economic Forum,
as well as numerous national parliaments. He has organized six international, inter-faith
and inter-disciplinary symposia to address ecological problems in the rivers and seas of
the world, initiatives earning him the title “Green Patriarch” and several significant
environmental awards.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s tenure has been characterized by inter-Orthodox cooperation,
inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue, as well as by formal trips to Orthodox and
Muslim countries seldom previously visited. He has exchanged numerous invitations of Church
and State dignitaries.

His efforts to promote religious freedom and human rights, his initiatives to advance religious
tolerance among the world’s religions, together with his work toward international peace and
environmental protection have justly placed him at the forefront of global visionaries
as an apostle of love, peace and reconciliation. In 1997, he was awarded the Gold Medal
of the United States Congress.

Bartholomew I is the 269th successor to St. Andrew.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/11/2006 1.39]

11/11/2006 5:05 PM
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History of The Ecumenical Patriarchate

Following the establishment of Constantinople (the ancient city of Byzantium) as the state capital of
the Roman Empire in the early part of the fourth century, a series of significant ecclesiastical
events saw the status of the Bishop of New Rome (as Constantinople was then called) elevated
to its current position and privilege.

The Church of Constantinople is traditionally regarded as being founded by St. Andrew, the “first-called”
of the Apostles. The 3rd canon of the Second Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople (381) conferred
upon the bishop of this city second rank after the Bishop of Rome.

Less than a century later, the 28th canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council held in Chalcedon (451)
offered Constantinople equal ranking to Rome and special responsibilities throughout the rest of
the world and expanding its jurisdiction to territories hitherto unclaimed.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate holds an honorary primacy among the autocephalous, or ecclesiastically
independent, Churches. It enjoys the privilege of serving as “first among equals.”

It is also known as the “Roman” Patriarchate (hence the Turkish phrase: Rum Patrikhanesi), recalling
its historical source as the Church of New Rome, the new capital of the Roman Empire, transferred
in 330 from Old Rome to Byzantium by Constantine the Great.

The first bishop of the city of Byzantium was St. Stachys (38–54), a disciple of the Apostle Andrew.
In 330, Byzantium was renamed Constantinople and New Rome, while its bishopric was elevated to
an archbishopric. The Metropolitan of Heraclea, to whom Byzantium was formerly subject, now came
under the jurisdiction of Constantinople and enjoyed the privileges of the latter’s most senior see.

As a title, the phrase “Ecumenical Patriarchate” dates from the sixth century and belongs exclusively
to the Archbishop of Constantinople. The Great Schism of 1054 — in fact the culmination of a gradual
estrangement over many centuries — resulted in formal separation between the Churches of the East
and the West, granting Constantinople sole authority and jurisdiction over the Orthodox Churches
throughout the world.

After the capture of Constantinople by the Latins during the Fourth Crusade (1204), the Ecumenical
Patriarchate was transferred to Nicaea (1206), but Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologos restored it
to Constantinople when he recaptured the city in 1261. When Constantinople became the capital of
the Ottoman Empire in 1453, the Ecumenical Patriarch (at the time, Gennadius II) was recognized as
Ethnarch of the Orthodox peoples, with increased authority over the Eastern Patriarchates and the
Balkan Churches, as well as farther afield.

From that time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate became a symbol of unity, rendering service and
solidarity to the Eastern Churches. In difficult periods, the Ecumenical Patriarchate was consulted
for the resolution of problems. Frequently, patriarchs of other Churches would reside in Constantinople,
which was the venue for meetings of the Holy Synod that was chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarch.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate also sponsored missionary growth through the centuries, the most notable
of which was the conversion of the Kievan Rus in the tenth century and the most recent of which
was the missionary work in Southeast Asia in the last century. This pastoral role and responsibility
has earned the characterization of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as “the golden beacon of Orthodoxy,
preserving the unwaning brilliance of Christianity.”

Currently, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is actively engaged in diverse ecclesiastical activities
and ministries. It has historically proved to be a dynamic leader in the ecumenical movement,
fully participating in the World Council of Churches from its inception, as well as in local
ecumenical bodies instituting and chairing bilateral theological dialogues with non-Orthodox
Christians but also with other monotheistic faiths.

The site has a very impressive interactive presentation (on Macromedia Flash Player) called
covering nearly two millennia of the Institution - from its roots in the early Christian Church,
through its growth and development alongside the Byzantine Empire. It also looks at the
challenges and struggles faced by the Eastern Church against the Ottoman Turks, the realities
of existence under Turkish rule today, and the emergence of the patriarchate as the defining voice
of the Orthodox Church.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/11/2006 1.45]

11/11/2006 7:12 PM
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As if the Pope's trip to Turkey were not fraught with enough perils and overcast with dire possibilities,
the Cyprus President's visit with the Pope yesterday underscored the 'realities of existence under Turkish rule'
referred to in the Patriarchate's interactive presentation.

Northern Cyprus has been occupied by the Turks since 1974 and they have declared it a separate state,
but of course, no one has joined Ankara in recognizing it.

Because the Pope's trip has political implications and will have political consequences one way or the other
on Turkish internal politics as well as on Muslim-Christian relations, coverage of this trip will necessarily
include related political news.

From Il Giornale today, Lella shares this interview with President Tassos Papadopoulos after his meeting
with Pope Benedict XVI yesterday. In translation -

The Pope looks at an icon given to him as a gift by President Papodopoulos and at a picture book
documenting the destruction and profanation of Christian churches in northern Cyprus by the occupying Turks

'Our appeals to UNESCO
have been in vain...'

By Alessandro M. Caprettini

"Joining the European Union? It's not an a la carte menu in which one can choose what one wants to do..."

President Tassos Papadopoulos of Cyprus does not mince words in analyzing Turkey's bid to join the EU.
For him, the situation is quite simple: "If they want to join the EU, then they must subscribe to
the framework for negotiations, right? So if Ankara really wants to join the European family,
all it has to do is to follow the requirements."

Blunt, decisive, unbending. But also quick to deny that there was any malice in the coincidence that his visit
to the Vatican comes practically on the eve of the Pope's trip to Turkey.

"We did not speak about the question of Turkey's admission to the EU," he said.

However, in addition to giving the Pope an icon as a gift, Papadopoulos also gave him a book of photographs
documenting the destruction and/or profanation of hundreds of churches - Catholic and Orthodox - in Turkish-
occupied Cyprus ...

"...because," Papadopulos said, "our protests presented to UNESCO have not produced any results at all,
and so we hope that an authoritative intervention by the Pope may stop this practice, which has been
resumed with extreme vigor in the recent past, with churches and convents being transformed into hotels,
nightclubs and shops...

"I thought the Pope looked very sad (while looking at the photographs, though I cannot say what he intends
to do about this matter. I know how he has always been concerned about the safekeeping of places of worship
used by any religion."

Some have asked why, when Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, it did not register a veto to the possible
admission of Turkey into the Union. Tell me in one word, please, did you do that because you think that
with Turkey in the EU, the Cyprus government would get back control of the territory now occupied
by the Turks (38% of the island)

What do you expect now?
That Ankara respects the rules and agreements. Did they not sign the memorandum which started the process
of application for admission to the EU? Aren't there 35 provisions therein that need to be fulfilled? It's not
as if they can choose to comply with some but not with all. Or at least, in our opinion, that should not be
the impression given even by some quarters in Brussels [seat of the EU].

Now, there is a serious examination of the questions that remain open and a decision must be made accordingly.
As I think Commissioner Barroso indicated a few days ago.

But what do you think the Turks can do in the 5 weeks that remain before the admissions committee
makes a ruling

I have serious doubts that they will be able to provide the answers Europe expects of them, if one is to judge
from recent statements by Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Gul.

They have said that Turkish recognition of Cyprus is out of the question. So then, how can we proceed?
Because Cyprus is one of the 25 present member states of the EU! It would be absurd to even hypothesize what
is actually true - that a nation is seeking admission to the Union while it maintains an army of occupation
in a member state of that Union

But isn't there the risk that Turkey will decide to withdraw its application to enter the EU and thus
leave Cyprus not only split in half but also probably on the frontline of a wider and more dangerous
Islamic initiative?

Erdogan continues to claim that his government's objective is to be part of the EU. Even the Turkish military
support him in that. I would like to believe what they say. Because of this and because of the risk that integralism
[ I do not know what he means by this term - integration of Cyprus into Turkey?] may end up prevailing
in Turkey, they should move faster to comply with what Brussels is asking them to do. What are they waiting for?
I would expect them to respect the commitments they signed.

Regardless of what Ankara decides to do, what can we materially expect of the mid-December
summit in Brussels of all EU heads of state and government to discuss the question?

I do not favor stopping all negotiations. I have heard talk of a possible suspension or a temporary freeze in
the admissions process, but I would like this explained further: why a suspension, and what do they expect
to gain by it?

Some quarters are reportedly urging Ankara to just continue refusing full compliance because ultimately,
Turkey will be admitted anyway. I hope that is not true.

But I know for sure that even as we had to to comply with all the requirements for admission to the EU,
we expect the same compliance to be required of Turkey
. We can wait.

How long?
Ten, fifteen years. Who can say? They will have enough time to decide whether they still want to join the EU.

But you did not discuss this with the Pope?
No. I've already told you. This was not an 'opportunistic' visit - it had been planned for a long time.
I would say that the Pope indirectly 'touched' on the issue in expressing his concern for the absence of a
genuine dialog between religions. He believes that peace and stability can be achieved only through a
profound encounter among the religions, and I think he will work a lot to promote this.

He told me he wants to go to the Holy Land to re-open and promote such an encounter, and I took the liberty
at that point to ask him to consider, on that occasion, to visit Cyprus too, where St. Paul had been arrested
by the Romans, and where there is a great wealth of Christian tradition. He gave me no assurances but I hope
he will come to Cyprus.

You visited the Pope but you have no appointment with anyone in the Italian government.
Isn't that strange
No, simply a question of protocol. We have excellent relations with the Italian government. In view of Italy's
good relations with Turkey, if Italy would wish to play the role of a mediator, we would be very happy.
Because the Italian government knows perfectly where we stand.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/11/2006 2.03]

11/11/2006 8:44 PM
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Also from Il Giornale of 11/11/06, Lella also shares this commentary, translated here:

The Pope challenges Europe
on secular ground

By Marco Palmisano

To reflect with the necessary prudence on the reasons that impel Benedict XVI to carry out his sensitive trip
to Turkey, let us try to get into the thoughts and actions of the Holy Father by examining his own relevant statements.

Before he became Pope, Joseph Ratzinger always insisted in his writings that reason cannot exclude an openness
to the mystery of the presence of God in our life.

"As a standard," he wrote, "I would speak about the need for a correlative relationship between reason and faith,
reason and religion, which must reciprocally clarify each other and must be recognized as a living unity."

It is on this 'secular' ground of reason that the Pope is turning to, in order to weave a fabric of dialog between
different cultures and professions of faith in the world today.

The Pope does not speak of abstract ecumenism nor of a politically correct dialog among religions, but
of reason that is open to the transcendent, publicly challenging believers and non-believers, Catholics
and Muslims, the Islamic, Slavic and Western worlds together.

Another illuminating passage from Papa Ratzinger: "We are now faced with this question - if terrorism is nourished
by religious fanaticism as it is, can religion be understood in such terms to be something healthy and redeeming,
or is it rather an archaic and dangerous power which creates a false 'universalism' that leads to intolerance and hatred?...
Perhaps religion and reason should delimit each other, each one in its proper place, in order to conduct man along
a positive path."

The balance and wisdom shown in these passages say much about the Pope's (understanding of) secularism
and of his great moral and cultural power to speak to modern man not in confessional (religious) terms, but in
expressions based on reason that are appropriate to man's dignity and the gravity of the problems which confront him.

In fact, the Christian faith requires believers to be in full possession of reason to be able to accept the faith as the
appropriate and exhaustive answer to the ultimate questions of life.

That is why, in the Pope's address to the Italian Church in Verona, he did not conceal his great sympathy
for all secular initiatives, free of ideological motivation, which derive from a sincere attention to the true
needs of human beings, for which answers are sought that do not deny the presence of God a priori in human life,
but are open to a recognition and affirmation of God.

The Pope's trip to the ancient land of Anatolia comes at a particularly delicate and decisive moment for
the outcome of the great encounter of civilizations taking place in the world today, upon which the fate
of the European peoples will depend in large part.

Turkey represents the true geographic, cultural and religious hinge between Europe and Asia, particularly Arabia.
One can say with the late Oriana Fallaci, that the growing encroachment of Eurabia that is taking place within
our nations with a Christian matrix, will surely result in the Eurasian front contributing strongly to the cultural
impoverishment of our European identity and its historic roots.

That is why Turkey's entry into the European Union is so ctritical, and even more important at this time is the visit
of a new Pope to this strategic frontier nation.

It is a mission that takes place on two parallel planes: as a renewed appeal to the European peoples on the ever
more urgent need to recover their European identity, and on the other, to confront other religions and cultures
openly and fearlessly, by challenging them secularly on rational grounds, with the consequent and necessary
application of reason to every field of human experience, both personal as well as collective.

This is certainly a thoughtful piece, but like most reporting so far on the Turkish trip, it chooses to ignore
the primary reason for the visit - a demonstration of ecumenical solidarity with the Orthodox Church, which can
only be beneficial to the moral, cultural and political aspects of the battle to preserve the European identity and
the Chrtistian values on which that identity is based.

And, of course, politically, it is the first Muslim country visited by Benedict XVI, and as far as we know, the only one
to any Muslim country contemplated so far.

Am I right that the next foreign trip we can expect will be the one in May 2007 to Brazil? Of course, if speculation
published earlier this year in an Italian newspaper has any basis, it could be the occasion for an American 'tour'
that might include Mexico and the United States (or at least, the UN in New York).

The rationale is that if the 80-year-old Pope (as he will be by then) is going to make such a long trip anyway,
it might be possible to maximize the opportunity and plan an itinerary that will not tax his health unnecessarily.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/11/2006 3.06]

11/11/2006 9:05 PM
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Still from the website of the Patriachate of Constantinople, here is an article with more information about about Bartholomew I - very much an activist Patriarch, who supports Turkey's entry into the European Union.

The articles appears to have been written earlier this year before the Roman-Orthodox meeting in Belgrade in September.

Patriarch Bartholomew -
A Passion For Peace

By John Silber
President Emeritus
University Professor and
Professor of Philosophy and Law
Boston University

The true peacemakers of history not only struggled to reduce conflict among others, they also showed compassion toward people who persecuted them. In recent times, they have included Martin Luther King, Andrei Sakharov, Aung San Suu Kyi, Shimon Peres, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

To that list must be added Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who has been called the Bridge Builder and the Patriarch of Peace.

Although he is the spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians, Bartholomew suffers constant harassment by a hostile Turkish government and persistent attacks by extremists who want to wipe him and his office out of existence. He has been cursed, spat upon, has seen his office windows broken by rocks and even had live grenades thrown into his courtyard.

His see, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which was established in the fourth century and once possessed holdings as vast as the Vatican, has been reduced to a small, besieged enclave in a decaying corner of Istanbul called the Phanar (Lighthouse).

Almost all of its property has been seized by successive Turkish governments, its schools have been closed and its prelates are taunted by extremists who demonstrate almost daily outside the Patriarchate, calling for its ouster from Turkey.

The Patriarch himself is often jeered and threatened when he ventures outside his walled enclave. He is periodically burned in effigy by Turkish chauvinists and Moslem fanatics. Petty bureaucrats take pleasure in harassing him, summoning him to their offices to question him about irrelevant issues, blocking his efforts to make repairs in the few buildings still under his control, and issuing veiled threats about what he says and does when he travels abroad.

The Turkish government as a whole follows a policy that deliberately belittles him, refusing to recognize his ecumenical status as the spiritual leader of a major religious faith but only as the head of the small Greek Orthodox community of Istanbul.

Like the leaders of other persecuted groups, he has not hesitated to protest the abuse. “Why? For what reason?” he cried out after Moslem extremists desecrated Orthodox graves in Istanbul. “Are we not in every way law-abiding citizens of this country? Have we not suffered enough without being at all to blame?”

He has seen the extent of that suffering over many decades. In September of 1955, when Bartholomew was studying in Istanbul, he witnessed a massive pogrom against the city’s Greek neighborhoods that left them looking “like the bombed parts of London during the Second World War,” as one British journalist reported.

While the police “stood idly by or cheered on the mob,” according to a report of the U.S. consul, 4,000 Greek shops and 2,000 homes were sacked and plundered, 38 churches were burned to the ground and 35 more desecrated, and 52 schools were destroyed.

More than a dozen people were killed and scores were injured during the riots, beginning a cycle of violence and intimidation that has seen Istanbul’s Greek population reduced from 200,000 when the riots erupted to less than 2,000 today.

(The riots were reportedly in response to the bombing of the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, but a Turkish inquiry later found that it had been ordered and carried out by agents of the Turkish prime minister to incite and justify anti-Greek riots in Turkey.)

Yet none of the abuse Bartholomew has seen has lessened his compassion and support for the Turkish people and his determination to serve as a bridge between Turkey and Europe. Despite his difficulties with the government, he has supported all international efforts to strengthen Turkey’s economy and democracy, often inviting severe criticism from Greek chauvinists.

He has been a fervent advocate of Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union, traveling widely throughout Europe to speak out in favor of its admission.

“The incorporation of Turkey into the European Union may well provide a powerful symbol of mutually beneficial cooperation between the Western and Islamic worlds and put an end to the talk of a clash of civilizations,” he told Europeans in several capitals.

The unqualified support of such an eminent Christian leader helped blunt the opposition of many skeptics in Europe who doubt the wisdom of admitting a predominantly Moslem country of 70 million, and the European Union opened negotiations with Turkey at the end of 2004.

Most important, at a time when hostility and misunderstanding between the Christian West and the Moslem world have reached a deadly standoff, Patriarch Bartholomew, who speaks seven languages including Turkish, is making a deliberate effort to reach out to Moslems throughout the Middle East.

“It is our strong belief that Orthodox Christians have a special responsibility to assist East-West rapprochement,” he noted. “For, like the Turkish Republic, we have a foot in both worlds.”

Pointing out that Orthodox Christians have a 550-year history of co-existence with Moslems in the Middle East, he has initiated a series of meetings with Moslem leaders throughout the region in what he calls “a dialogue of loving truth.”

To strengthen that dialogue, he has traveled to Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Qatar and Bahrain and met political and religious figures in those countries, whom no other Christian hierarch has ever visited. As a result, the Patriarch has more credibility and opportunity to create bridges between Christianity and Islam than any other prominent Christian leader.

“We understand the grievances of the Moslem world against the West because the Orthodox world has been subjected to some of the same treatment in the past,” he said. “Like us, they, too, have seen their faith dissected and their history disfigured, but we hope to put behind us what is unpleasant while putting forward the best values of mankind.”

What that means, he has made clear, is a total and unequivocal commitment to peace and tolerance.

“We most categorically condemn every kind of fanaticism, transgression and use of violence, regardless of where they come from,” he declared in an address before the European Parliament. “Our commitment to the need for free and peaceful communication among people and mutual respect and peaceful relations among nations remains unshaken…”

Patriarch Bartholomew has used the international respect he enjoys both in the West and in the Moslem world to create a strong front among religious leaders against the use of violence.

Three months after September 11, 2001, he organized an interfaith conference in Brussels, co-sponsored by the president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, now prime minister of Italy. The Patriarch played a key role in forging the famous declaration that emerged from the conference, which stated that “war in the name of religion is war against religion.”

Religious extremists and terrorists, he later told Time magazine, “may be the most wicked false prophets of all. When they bomb, shoot and destroy, they steal more than life itself; they undermine faith, and faith is the only way to break the cycle of hatred and retribution.”

Knowing from personal experience what misery and destruction religious hatred can produce, Patriarch Bartholomew has tried to combat it in every way that his faith and his position permit.

One of his major efforts during his first years as Patriarch was to convene an interfaith international conference on Peace and Religious Tolerance in Istanbul. The conference brought together for the first time in the region Christians, Jews and Moslems to find ways to encourage understanding and peaceful coexistence among followers of the three faiths.

“Beloved friends,” he told delegates to the conference, “there is more that unites us than that which divides us. We have within our grasp the vision of the Psalmist, ‘Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.’”

Within the Christian world, too, the Patriarch is playing a pivotal role as a peacemaker. As soon as Benedict XVI became Pope last year, Bartholomew saw the opportunity to revitalize the ecumenical movement. He invited Pope Benedict to visit the Patriarchate. This historic trip is now planned for November 29-30.

Even before their summit meeting, the Orthodox Catholic International commission [met] in September for the first time in six years. Commission members re-tackle(d)e critical theological discussion of church authority and primacy, one of the major stumbling blocks to union between the two Christian faiths.

The talks began to bog down in the early 1990’s as Catholics and Orthodox struggled to overcome tensions caused by the renewed life and activity of the Eastern European churches after the fall of Communism. They were abandoned altogether by the end of the decade.

Now, thanks to Patriarch Bartholomew and the new Pope, the ecumenical movement (has been) injected with new energy and optimism.

The Patriarch’s concerns are not limited to interfaith conflicts, but have expanded to embrace all of “God’s creation.” He has shown such concern for the environment that he has become widely known as “the Green Patriarch.”

He famously declared shortly after he assumed the ecumenical throne in 1991 that “crime against the natural world is a sin.” Human beings and the environment, he stated, “compose a seamless garment of existence, a multicolored cloth, which we believe to be woven in its entirety by God.”

The world, he told a 1997 conference of environmentalists in Santa Barbara, CA, “is not ours to use for our own convenience. It is God’s gift of love to us and we must return his love by protecting it and all that is in it.”

To back up his words with action, Bartholomew launched a series of initiatives to raise worldwide concern for the environment. In 1992 he proposed to all Orthodox churches that each year, September 1 be celebrated as a special day of prayer for the environment.

In 1995 he started a series of environmental conferences, inviting prominent scientists, political leaders, theologians, ecologists and journalists on a cruise ship for weeklong trips to examine the destruction that pollution has caused on major waters. Designed to draw international attention to the ecological degradation of the areas they visit, five such floating conferences have taken place in the past decade—to the Black Sea, the Aegean, the Adriatic, the Baltic and the Danube River.

The conclusion of the 1997 Black Sea trip led to an action plan to combat the destruction of Europe’s most isolated marine area and won grants to do the job from international financial institutions such as the World Bank.

During the Adriatic trip in 2002, the Patriarch persuaded Pope John Paul II, through a phone hook-up with Rome, to call for an end to the destruction of the environment, and convinced the Aga Khan, who was on the cruise, to urge all religious leaders to focus on the environment.

“There are very few references to the environment in what Protestants and Catholics say on Sunday, what the Jews say on Saturday and what Moslems say on Friday in their places of worship,” the Aga Khan told the BBC, “and I think it would be good if they used their platforms to sensitize individuals.”

For more than a decade, Patriarch Bartholomew has held international ecological seminars every summer on the premises of the Theological School of Halki, an island near Istanbul, which the Patriarchate controls but the Turkish government does not allow to operate as a seminary.

The seminars are sponsored by the Patriarch and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who founded the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in 1995 in the wake of the Patriarch’s environmental efforts.

For his work to combat pollution, the Patriarch was chosen in 2002 to receive Norway’s Sophie Prize, the most important international award given for leadership on the environment. He donated the $100,000 prize money for the poor children of Ethiopia, Greece and Turkey.

“We are losing time,” Bartholomew warned while accepting the award, “and the more we wait, the more difficult and irreparable the damage.”

Although his efforts have brought him little relief from his problems in Turkey, they have been recognized around the world, including by U.S. Congress, which gave him its highest award, the Congressional Gold Medal, in a ceremony under the Capitol dome.

“The greatest lesson about America lies under this magnificent dome,” he told the assembled legislators. “The Pentagon embodies might, but the Capitol embodies right. In these halls different points of view meet and are reconciled…And – most important to the Orthodox Church during many dark ages—in these halls human rights are preserved and human dignity is enhanced.”

The Patriarch has been honored also by the United Nations, the European Union and dozens of governments, universities and institutions for his bold efforts to promote peace and understanding, especially between East and West.

“To build a bridge between the East and West has long been a major concern for His All-Holiness…” said Dr. Joël Delobel of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, in conferring an honorary doctorate on Patriarch Bartholomew in 1996. “The Patriarch’s entire life has been one of preparation for the task of bridge builder. The first of these bridges is one that reaches out to the various Orthodox churches…

“The second bridge is one which reaches out to Europe, a bridge which has been created from the Patriarch’s vigorous pleas for the extension of the European Union to the East and the Southeast of Europe. In the midst of current hesitation concerning the future of the Union, his unremitting plea for a complete Union and his concern for the protection of the environment are guiding lights for both East and West.

“The third bridge is one that will facilitate the dialogue between all the Christian churches.

“It is all the more important, then, that a church leader such as Patriarch Bartholomew…travel all over the world to encourage mutual understanding, to face the problems and create solutions. There is no other way. Such bridge-builders are desperately needed.”

Since he became Ecumenical Patriarch on October 22, 1991, Bartholomew has never been content to stay home and focus on theological issues and the difficult problems of trying to survive in a hostile environment.

Instead, he has ventured out to every continent to take an active role in the World Council of Churches, address the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress, meet with heads of state and visit Orthodox churches in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, South America, Greece, Russia, Norway, Finland, Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania, Ethiopia, Korea and Cuba.

“There is a deep hunger for spirituality today, a great need to demonstrate to anxious people all over the world the healing power of compassion and goodwill,” he says, “and there has never been a greater need for spiritual leaders to engage themselves in the affairs of the world.”

As Patriarch over the past 15 years, Bartholomew’s inclination has been to take on the most difficult issues facing the world—the deep mistrust between East and West, the destruction of the environment, and the sharp divisions among religious faiths.

The difficulty of the issues he grapples with as he ventures out in the world does not daunt him any more than the abuse he must endure every day at home in Turkey. He is determined to persevere, to make a difference, and it is clear to those who have watched him struggle over the past 15 years that he has already made it.

Among the last blessings offered by Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount was one for those who try to promote peace and understanding. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” He said, “for they shall be called children of God.”

Perhaps He left it for the end because He knew it was the most arduous mission that any human being could undertake.

And perhaps that is the reason Patriarch Bartholomew has made it his life’s work.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/11/2006 3.19]

11/11/2006 10:50 PM
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DETAILS OF THE POPE'S TRIP presents an 'annotated' account of the Pope's Turkish itinerary, which fleshes out the bare-bones progam released by the Vatican Press Office earlier today. Here is a translation -=============================================================

Korayzym offers details
gathered from various sources

The Vatican Press Office has released the program for the Pope's apostolic voyage to Turkey but without furnishing time schedules or details.

The ecumenical dimension and dialog with Islam, a meeting with Turkish Catholics and a defense of religious minorities, will occupy the Pope in four days packed with activities and celeberations, and which will involve two airplane trips within Turkey (Ankara-Izmir and Izmir-Istanbul) and at least eight speeches and homilies.

Usually, the detailed itinerary of a Papal trip is announced at least a month before it takes place, and usually with specific detail about daily schedules, the sites for the various events, how the Pope will go from one event to the next, and where the Pope will be lodged.

None of this is found in the program released today. The obvious reason is for security, but there may be political reasons as well.

The ecumenical encounters will take place with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Armenian Patriarch Mesrop II, and the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Philuksinos.

Meetings of a politco-religious nature will take place with the Grand Rabbi of Turkey and Turkey's president for religious affairs, Ali Bardakoglu, who also heads the Diyanet, which administers Islamic worship in Turkey.

This meeting with Bardakoglu in Ankara on the afternoon of November 28 will be attended also by the leading Muslim authorities in Turkey, including the Grand Muftis of Ankara and Istanbul.

Following the Muslim reaction to a citation made by the Pope in Regensburg, this meeting has been carefully prepared in the hope of resolving all remaining questions in that regard.

Turkish sources indicated that in the past few weeks, meetings about the Papal visit centered on the choice of sites for the various political meetings. In Turkey, such meeting sites and which authorities are present are considered to have extreme symbolic significance.

A concrete example is the presence of Turkish military commanders among the authorities who will welcome and see off the Pope at the airports in Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul. This is an indication of the important role played by the military in Turkish affairs today.

Despite the stripped-to-the-essentials program released by the Vatican Press Office, more details about the various papal events have been learned in recent weeks from the Turkish bishops conference, from Cardinals Walter Kasper and Paul Populard, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and from Turkish official and media sources.

Tuesday, November 28

The Pope will leave Fiumicino airport, Rome, at 9 a.m. on an Alitalia flight to arrive in Ankara at 13:009 local time.

There will be no welcome ceremony at the airport, as previously announced, but a 'wecome committee" will include a representative delegated by the Turkish government, the governor and the military commandant of the Ankara region, and the mayor of Ankara, as well as a small military honor guard.

From the airport, the Pope will proceed to pay homage at the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, father of modern secular Turkey which he founded in 1923 on the post World War-I ruins of the decrepit Ottoman Empire.

A series of political meetings will take place in the afternoon. First, a visit to the President of Turkey at the Presidential Palace in Ankara for the oficial welcome ceremony. No speeches are expected.

Next, a meeting with Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister, substituting for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will be in Riga attending a NATO summit. There appears to be much uncertainty even about this meeting, which is supposed to take place at the Presidential Palace also.

The Turkish newspaper Sabah points out that not only Erdogan but also the Turkish Foreign Minister Gul and the Minister for Religious Affairs Mehmet Aydin appear to be 'absent' from the scene during the Pope's visit.

The newspaper even says that the 'delegated representative' representing the Turkish government at Ankara airport is not even a full minister but Oya Tuzcuoglu, protocol officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[I think all this simply demonstrates, on the part of the Turkish government, malicious incivility towards the Pope and deliberate discourtesy towards a visiting head of state. Certainly, no way to treat an invited guest !]

The Pope's next appointment is the one with Bardakoglu, to take place at the seat of the Diyanet. This meeting was arranged after the 'Regensburg reaction' and has received an unprecedented level of solemnity and importance. The Minister for Religious Affairs and the Grand Muftis of Ankara and Istanbul were consulted about the event.

The Pope and Bardakoglu will meet in private, after which they will both give a statement to the media.

The Pope's first day in Turkey will end with a meeting with the diplomatic corps of Ankara at the Apostolic Nunciature. The Pope will deliver an address.

Wednesday, November 29

The Pope's second day will take place mostly in Ephesus near Izmir (Smyrna), where he will arrive by plane in the morning.

He will proceed to Ephesus where he will say Mass at the piazza in front of the Sanctuary of Meryem Ana Evi (House of the Mother of God) for some 2,000 local Catholics. [According to legend, Mary lived the last years of her earthly life in a nearby house that has been venerated as a shrine since the days of the early Church.]

The Pope will then have lunch at the Capuchin convent with Turkish bishops and local clergy.

In the late afternoon, he will fly from Izmir to Istanbul, where he will be welcomed by the regional governor, the military commandant and the mayor of Istanbul, on the official side; and by Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Armenian Patriarch Mesrop II, the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Filuksinos, and Catholics of Istanbul.

The Pope will proceed to the Patriarchal Church of St. George for prayers, which will be followed by his private meeting with Bartholomew I at the Phanar, seat of the patriarchate.
[Looking at Bartholomew's resume, one presumes they will be speaking to each other in German.]

Thursday, November 30

The celebration of the feast day of St. Andrew, the main reason for this Papal trip, will begin with the Pope saying Mass privately at the chapel of the Pontifical Representative in Istanbul.

He will then proceed to the Phanar to take part with Bartholomew I in a Divine Liturgy, where he will deliver an address. He will then inaugurate a memorial tablet that records the visit of three Popes to Turkey (Paul VI, John Paul II and himself).

Perhaps the most important part of the visit will take place at midday, still at the Phanar, when the Pope and the Patriach will give a blessing (in Latin and Greek) to the faithful and will then sign a Joint Declaration that will mark the ultimate stage of dialog towards unity between the Roman and Orthodox Churches.

The Pope will lunch with the Patriarch before returning to the residence of the pontifical representative in Istanbul.

Mons. Vincenzo Paglia, Bishop of Terni and president of the Italian Bishops' committee on ecumenism and dialog, said the Joint Declaration could contain an important agreement about Petrine primacy, or the role and jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff with respect to Orthodox Christians.

"I do not doubt that there will be news on this issue," Paglia told the news agency Adn-kronos. "This encounter with Bartholomew I follows the Catholic-Orthodox meeting recently held in Belgrade which tackled this issue."

In the afternoon, the Pope will visit the museum of Saint Sophia, which was a basilica until 1453 (when Constantinople fell finally to the Ottomans) and was a mosque until 1923, when Ataturk founded the secular state of Turkey.

From St. Sophia, the Pope will proceed to the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of Saint Mary for prayers and a meeting with Patriarch Mesrop II.

The Pope will enter the Cathedral at the head of a procession to take part in a brief Liturgy of Words, at which he will deliver a greeting and a blessing for the faithful. His meeting with Mesrop will follow, with an introduction of their respective delegation members.

Back at the papal representative's residence, the Pope will meet next with the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan and then with the Grand Rabbi of Turkey.

The Pope's day will end after dinner with the members of the Turkish bishops conference.

Friday, December 1

The fourth and last day of the visit will be dedicated completely to the Catholic community. A late addition to the program, it will start with a Mass at the Catholic Church of the Holy Spirit, at which Patriach Bartholomew, Patriarch Mesrop II, Metropolitan Filuksinos and representatives of Portestant churches will take part. The ceremony has been described as 'inter-ritual' in character.

Before the Mass, Benedict XVI will bless a statue of Benedict XV, which was erected in Turkey before the Second World War, to honor the Pope who tried to prevent World War I and did so much to help the eventual victims; as well as a statue honoring John XXIII, who was Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey from 1935-1945.

After the Mass, the Pope will proceed to Istanbul airport, where he will be seen off by local Turkish authorities, the members of the Turkish bishops conference, and the three Patriarchs of Istanbul.

Take-off is scheduled at 13:15, arriving in Rome's Ciampino airport at 14:45 Rome time.

[Will the Pope, following established practice, fly back to Rome in an airplane belonging to his host country, which in this case, would be Turkish Airlines? The story does not tell us.

Personally, I would like El-Al to fly the Pope back home from Turkey but that's obviously unlikely. For once, it would be most welcome if the Vatican does not follow precedent this time, and use Alitalia flying back to Rome. For once, I would welcome some news like "Turkish pilots refuse to fly Benedict home' that would give a reason for not using Turkish Airlines at all. The possibilities for untoward happenings otherwise are simply too much to even think about!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 13/11/2006 6.23]

11/11/2006 11:45 PM
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Thank you, Teresa!
Thank you, Teresa, for this detailed and beautifully illustrated introduction to Papa's visit to Turkey. It will be most useful as a reference document for us to keep.
Mary x [SM=g27811]

11/12/2006 12:42 AM
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Thanks, Mary. We are lucky the Ecumenical Patriarchate is media-savvy enough to launch the special website and to have all the necessary background material.

It's safe to say most Catholics really do not know very much about our Orthodox brothers. I've been to one Greek Orthodox Sunday service in Paris and one Russian Orthodox Sunday service in Moscow - both of them unforgettable, even if lengthy and I could not follow the prayers, obviously - and that is the sum total of my experience with the Orthodox churches so far, apart from visiting them as a tourist when I have the chance. I love the gold and incense, the shadowed mystic atmosphere, and the magnificent icons that usually characterize the Orthodox shrines. And I have always felt close to St. Andrew, who is the name saint of both my late father and my oldest brother.

And Mary, I have only been able to to enlarge the banner of the Patriarchate site via ImageShack to this size. Do you think you could enlarge it further to at least 6 inches wide? It's very striking in its actual size on the site, but I can't lift it straight from the site itself.

Anyway, just to help focus our attention on the Turkish trip, I am re-posting here the following article that was posted by Benefan in NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT in late October, for one Anglophone perspective on the visit.


Benedict Will Face Touchy Issues
During Turkey Visit

pPosted 10/25/06
Register Correspondent

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit to Turkey is both a diplomatic minefield and a sea of valuable opportunities.

Analysts say the trip is of major importance for three reasons: for furthering religious freedom in Turkey and other Muslim-majority states, for improving Muslim-Christian relations, and for advancing the cause of Christian unity.

As the Register went to press, the details of the apostolic voyage had yet to be finalized. But according to Asia News and Vatican sources, the Pope is scheduled to arrive in the Turkish capital of Ankara Nov. 28, where he will spend the day with the country’s political authorities.

The following day, the Holy Father will travel to the port city of Izmir near Ephesus where he will visit an ancient Christian community, before moving on to Ephesus itself where he is expected to visit Meryem Ana, a small house on a hilltop overlooking the Aegean Sea where, according to tradition, Mary lived out her final years and was assumed into heaven.

On Nov. 29, Benedict is scheduled to arrive in Istanbul, where he will have a private audience with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, the person who first invited the Pope to Turkey.

On Nov. 30, on the feast of St. Andrew, the Pope will attend a solemn Divine Liturgy presided over by the patriarch. The Holy Father is expected to deliver a discourse on the quest for Christian unity and comment on this year’s resumption of the Commission of Theological Dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Before returning to Rome Dec. 1, the Pope will also meet with Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, who leads a Christian community that has suffered intermittent persecution for centuries.

Religious Freedom

Turkish Christians still face discrimination, despite residing in the country for 2,000 years (the Orthodox have few rights over their property and are subject to special legal restrictions).

And while Turkey is ostensibly a secular state, in recent years it has experienced a strong trend towards Islamism. The numbers of attacks on Christians have risen, the most notorious being the murder of Italian priest Father Andrea Santoro earlier this year.

“We have to hope that the Pope’s visit — to an ecumenical patriarchate that is for all practical purposes controlled by the Turkish government — advances the cause of religious freedom in Turkey and throughout the Islamic world,” papal biographer George Weigel told the Register.

“No one should gainsay the difficulty of that project, however,” Weigel said. “Not because of the Pope’s Regensburg lecture, which, in fact, identified the crucial issues with precision, but because of the current jihadist drift of too much Islamic thought and sentiment.”

A number of senior Vatican officials hope Benedict will be able to reach out to Muslims during the trip by conveying the true message of his Regensburg speech, which sparked intense anger in Turkey and other Muslim countries.

Some observers recommended caution in addressing that issue.

“If he refers directly to it, I don’t think it will help because Muslims are not ready to understand it,” said Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir, professor of Oriental theology at St. Joseph’s University in Lebanon.

But others insisted that the focus of the Pope’s Regensburg address — the need to reconcile faith and reason — is crucial to furthering Muslim-Christian dialogue and to helping Muslims renounce violent extremism.

“Why do we have to wait to discuss this?” asked Father Justo Lacunza-Balda, rector emeritus of the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. “For years, we have not confronted these issues; we have to begin somewhere.”

EU Membership

Another touchy issue is Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, which is linked to the issues of religious freedom and Muslim-Christian relations. The matter is made more sensitive by Benedict’s statement in 2004 that he was opposed to Turkey joining the economic bloc.

A Turkish government spokesman told the Register Oct. 20 that the Pope will probably have to “clarify” his position on the matter.

The meeting with Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II might also generate friction. Some Italian commentators have argued that by meeting the patriarch, the Pope will bear witness to allegations that Turkey killed 1.5 million Armenians in a planned act of genocide in 1915. The Turkish government strongly denies those charges.

Vatican officials, however, are playing down any such interpretation of the meeting.

Benedict’s meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew I is likely to be much less controversial, but potentially far more significant.

The patriarch told reporters Sept. 29 he was anticipating the visit with “great brotherly love.” That fraternal affection could be decisive in reaching a constructive outcome now that formal Catholic-Orthodox dialogue has resumed, and discussions have begun on the key issue of papal primacy.


Some Vatican analysts have expressed concern about the Pope’s security in the wake of the Regensburg controversy. The Turkish government spokesman stressed that Benedict will be welcomed as a “foreign leader of a state” rather than a “religious leader,” in order to “give more importance” to the visit and ensure he is “protected as a head of state.”

The Turkish government has also moved to ease the security concerns by noting that the country has hosted many world leaders without problems, including President Bush in 2004.

The government spokesman said that Turks view the papal visit as an opportunity for reconciliation, not confrontation.

“There is no opposition to his visit, but we have been heartbroken and offended, recently after the Regensburg speech, but also [through] the cartoon crisis and the war in Iraq and Lebanon,” the government spokesman said. “The hope is that he will bring healing, and there are strong indications of that.”

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 12/11/2006 2.09]

11/12/2006 6:52 AM
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POPE TO MEET CLERIC WHO DENOUNCED HIM the AP's twist on the Papal program in Turkey:

VATICAN CITY Nov. 11 (AP) - The pope's upcoming trip to Turkey will include a meeting with a Muslim cleric who was one of the first to denounce Benedict XVI for his remarks on Islam and violence, the Vatican said Saturday.

The Nov. 28-Dec. 1 pilgrimage was born out of Benedict's desire to meet with the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, as the pope pursues closer relations with other Christian denominations.

But Benedict's first papal visit to a Muslim country quickly turned into a test of Catholic-Muslim relations after his Sept. 12 speech provoked an outcry in the Muslim world. The pope quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor describing Islam as a religion spread by the sword.

One of the first to denounce Benedict's speech was Turkey's president for religious affairs, Ali Bardakoglu, a top Islamic cleric who said criticism of Islam threatened world peace. Benedict and Bardakoglu will meet within hours of the pope's arrival in Ankara, the Turkish capital. The pope will also deliver a speech during his encounter with the cleric, the Vatican said.

Benedict has offered his regrets that his speech caused offense and has stressed that the quotes did not reflect his personal opinion. He has also expressed esteem for Islam.

Immediately after arriving in Ankara, the pope will visit the mausoleum of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, revered by Turks who share his fierce dedication to secularism.

Concerns have been growing about the rising profile of Islam in the predominantly Muslim but officially secular country. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has worried secularists by supporting religious schools and speaking out against restrictions on wearing Islamic-style head scarves in government offices and schools.

On Saturday, Erdogan was booed by thousands at the funeral of the late Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, an ardent secularist. Erdogan's government denies it has an Islamic agenda.

Erdogan has said he will not be meeting with the pope because he will be attending a NATO summit in Latvia. He had denied trying to avoid an encounter with Benedict, who will meet with Turkey's deputy premier. [Who for some reason continues to be without a name in all the news reports so far!]

Benedict will spend much of it in ceremonies and meetings with Orthodox leaders. He will meet with Bartholomew I in Istanbul on Nov. 29, and pray at the patriarchal Church of St. George that day.

The visit was timed to coincide with the Nov. 30 feast of the Orthodox Saint Andrew, considered the father of the patriarchate of ancient Constantinople, now Istanbul.

On Nov. 30, Benedict will meet with other Christian leaders: Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, who is based in Istanbul, and Assyrian Metropolitan Yusef Cetin.

Benedict will also meet Turkey's chief rabbi while in Istanbul, where two synagogues were destroyed in twin suicide bombings in November 2003.

On his last evening in Turkey, the pope will dine with Catholic clerics. In February, an Italian priest was slain as he prayed in his church in the Black Sea town of Trabzon, and a 16-year-old Turk was charged with the murder.

11/13/2006 11:52 PM
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Resizing site banner
Oops! I resized it but it was too big and lost the resolution. I'll have another go tomorrow. I don't give up without a fight when it comes to Paint Shop Pro!!!!!
Luff, Mary x [SM=g27811]

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11/15/2006 4:23 AM
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Pilgrimage to Constantinople

America Magazine

With the exception of his appearance before his old faculty at the University of Regensburg, Pope Benedict XVI’s travels have been quiet affairs. Even a trip to Spain last July, which threatened to erupt into controversy over policy differences with that country’s Socialist government, transpired so uneventfully that some Vatican officials were surprised. The pope’s upcoming trip to Turkey, Nov. 28-30, may be a different matter. It will be his first visit to a Muslim country, where hostility toward Christianity has been growing.

In the last year, one priest has been killed in Turkey and at least two others attacked. Various individuals have threatened the pope’s life if he persists in his mission. Earlier this month a gunman was arrested for firing at the Italian consulate in protest of the visit.

Memories of the pope’s public opposition, when he was a cardinal, to Turkey’s admission to the European Union on the grounds that it does not share Europe’s culture are still raw; and his use of a controversial quote about irrational violence in Islam in his Regensburg lecture has unfortunately further inflamed those who oppose the visit. Still, the Turkish government has continued to extend its invitation, and the pope has bravely held to his commitment.

A principal purpose of the trip is to strengthen relations with the Orthodox Church and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I by attending the celebration of the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 30), patron of the see of Constantinople. How fraught with difficulty the journey may be is evident from the tensions between the Turkish government and the patriarchate over constraints Turkey has imposed on the religious freedom of the Greek Orthodox Church. Following a recent meeting, the North American Orthodox Catholic Theological Consultation identified several of the difficulties faced by the ecumenical patriarchate.

The group’s statement declared: “By decisions reached in 1923 and 1970, the government imposed significant limitations on the election of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Even today, the Turkish state does not recognize the historic role that the patriarch plays among Orthodox Christians outside Turkey. The Turkish government closed the patriarchate’s theological school on the island of Halki in 1971 and, in spite of numerous appeals from governmental and religious authorities, still does not allow it to reopen, severely limiting the patriarchate’s ability to train candidates for the ministry.”

Pope Benedict’s pilgrimage offers an opportunity not only to express solidarity with the Orthodox in their straitened circumstances, but for all sides to find ways out of these historic difficulties.

The Turkish situation is not, as some wrongly imagine, a straightforward Islam-versus-the-West scenario. Turkey is a bridge between Europe and the Middle East – and not just geographically. It is an Islamic country with a moderate Muslim party now leading the government, but its constitution, vigorously upheld by the military, involves an especially stringent form of Turkish secularism that struggles to hold down religious fundamentalism among the population.

Since the time of Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey’s founder and first president (1923-38), the country has struggled to modernize – that is to say, Westernize – by adopting European fashions, technology and economics as well as the forms of parliamentary government; but it has often fallen short of adopting the deeper Western values of respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Among Turkey’s elites there is profound fear of political and cultural fragmentation, particularly of secession on the part of the sizable Kurdish population. Intellectual dissent from the standards of official Turkish identity – by acknowledging, for example, the Armenian genocide—remains a criminal offense. Though members of the Greek Orthodox Church make up only a minuscule group, Turkey, as heir to the Ottoman Empire, clings to a centuries-old enmity toward Greece and in particular the Greek Orthodox Church, as the custodian of the Hellenic soul.

The pope deserves credit for supporting the Orthodox Church on such hostile terrain. In choosing to visit Turkey, he has taken on a Herculean challenge that combines Turkish-European, Muslim-Christian and Orthodox-Catholic relations. At the heart of each problematic relationship lie questions about the status of human rights and religious liberty.

God willing, even if the trip provides no immediate breakthroughs, the pope’s journey will prepare the way for peaceful progress on these issues in the future.
11/15/2006 8:01 PM
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15 November, 2006

Turkish nationalist paper accuses Bartholomew and Benedict XVI

The patriarch is accused of monopolising the event’s TV coverage and the Istanbul press room even though the Patriarchate’s involvement in this aspect of the visit’s organisation is due to a lack of interest by Turkish authorities.

Ankara (AsiaNews) – In the latest in a series of actions taken by Turkey’s religious-nationalist camp against the visit by the Pontiff to that country on November 28-December 1, a photo is travelling the net showing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Pope Benedict XVI with the caption saying: “The alliance between the two Christian leaders attacks Islam”.

Tercüman, a nationalist daily, has gone a step further and published the photo on its front page. In large fonts, the title and subtitle respectively say: “Here is Sir Patriarch” and “He attacked Turkey’s power by allowing the Hilton Hotel to be turned into a church for journalists coming for the Pope.”

In the article, the paper denigrates the Ecumenical Patriarch accusing him of being “power-hungry”, daring to “bypass for a second time” the Turkish government by imposing the invitation to the Pope and his visit.

Two years ago Bartholomew I personally invited the Pope to Turkey for the Feast Day of St Andrew (November 30). The Turkish government did not join its (necessary) invitation to that made by the Patriarch until this year.

The Turkish paper accuses the Patriarch of wanting to create a “state within a state”, but most seriously charges Bartholomew I of giving exclusive worldwide TV rights to the Patriarchate itself (hence to Greek channels). To make matters worse, all telephone and internet lines will depend on the Patriarchate, not the Turkish state. This means that the Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) will be excluded and have no say in the matter.

In fact, the article’s author writes that even Turkish news media will have to get accreditation with the Patriarchate and use the services made available to them in a press room, set up for the occasion in Istanbul’ Hotel Hilton by the Patriarchate itself.

For many Turks this represents a loss of authority, whilst for the Greek Orthodox patriarch it is a matter of freedom.

By contrast, sources in Rome say off the record that if there is anyone to blame it is Turkish TV which decided not to cover the papal visit and so left the organisation to others. The same is true for the press room which Turkish authorities chose not to set up. Hence in both Ankara and Ephesus, the first two stops in Benedict XVI’s visit, there will be no press room. The one in Istanbul is being set up by the Patriarchate.

Following the controversy over the Pope’s Regensburg speech and the false interpretations given to it, tensions had seemingly died down.

In fact, in Turkey many newspapers explained to the population that the Pope’s security will be provided by Turkish police and law enforcement agencies.

11/16/2006 3:27 AM
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Oh dear, the last thing Patriarch Bartholomew needs at this time is to give Turkish authorities any pretext to trump up charges against him.

We can put up with a lot, as we will doubtless have to in the next 15 days, as long as the Holy Father comes back from Turkey safe and sound. But the ordeal has begun -

The Turks are obviously reluctant hosts, if not downright hostile. They are barely keeping a veneer of civility because they can't afford to lose more ground in their already seriously deficient bid to gain admission to the European Union.

They're giving the Pope no airport welcome nor departure honors befitting a head of state. Their Prime Minister has found an excuse not to meet with him.

Turkish TV won't cover the visit and will not let the Patriarchate do that either, it looks like. The government won't set up press centers as is customary for state visits and is questioning the Patriarchate's right to set up such Centers. In short, they want to minimize coverage of this visit, including international.

Remember they said not one word in the Turkish media about Benedict's trip to Bavaria, nor showed a single image of it. The Turkish people who do not read foreign newspapers or watch foreign TV had no idea what Benedict was doing until Turkey fired the first salvo in the post-Regensburg Islamic assault.

[I commented at the time they probably did not want the Turkish people to see the popularity that a Pope has and the enthusiasm he attracts, because there is no comparable figure in the Muslim world who has a fraction of the Pope's public visibility and popularity!]

So fine, don't show his visit to Turkey either to the Turkish people, but why mess with the international coverage?

Now comes Ali Bardakoglu, point man in the Turkish attacks on Benedict last September with yet another forked-tongue interview. Every other statement he makes is a recimination against the Pope. The man gives me shudders!

Here is a translation of a Spanish online report from RD posted by Nessuna today. It reports on something from the Italian press which I am surprised the girls in the main forum do not have:


RD, Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Turkey could help improve relations with Muslims but is not going to heal the wounds caused by his statements about Islam, according to Ali Bardakoglu, president for religious affairs in the Turkish government, in an interview published in the Italian newspaper La Stampa today.

Bardakoglu, who is scheduled to meet with the Pope in Ankara on November 28, said however that he does not believe the Pope will be in any danger despite protests threats that have been made. [Because it's not his skin at risk, and he doesn't really care!]

"No, I am not at all worried," Bardakoglu told La Stampa. "This trip will not resolve all problems but it is a good step in the direction of dialog."

"Peace can be destroyed in a moment, but to rebuild it requires much time, a long process," he said. [Oh, spare us the platitudes! What peace?]

Bardakoglu, who has said that he accepted the Pope's clarification of the historical citation he made regarding Mohammed and Islam's record of violence, once again said the Pope's statements [at Regensburg] were 'unacceptable.' [In short, he isn't accepting the explanation!]

"It doesn't matter," he said, "whether who says anything unacceptable about Islam is a lay person, a religious, or a VIP: the important thing is to correct him." [And Ratzinger, you deserve more than just a rap on the knuckles, you hear? You need a good belting! And for penance, you must bow to Mecca five times a day for the next 10 years!

"But these are things of the past. We want to look forward," he added. (Yeah, he had to say something like this, for cosmetic purposes, but hes relentless. Watch what he says next!]

Bardakoglu went on to dispute the Pope's statement that he was "trying to explain that religion and violence do not go together, but religion and reason do."

He dismissed it by saying it leads to "a bad academic intepretation." (What?}

"The Islamic faith does not exclude rationalism," he said. "There are indications in the Koran that logic is not alien to God."

This controversy casts a shadow on the Pope's trip to Turkey whose primary purpose is a show of Christian unity between the Pope and the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, considered 'first among equals' of all the different Orthodox Patriarchs.

Come, Holy Ghost...send forth thy Spirit, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth!

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 16/11/2006 3.43]

11/16/2006 10:13 AM
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11/17/2006 1:28 AM
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Secularism in Turkey means government controls all religions

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Turkey's unique brand of secularism is not separation of religion and state, but rather government control of religion, impacting both the Muslim majority and religious minorities.

The government builds and funds mosques, employs Muslim prayer leaders, controls religious education and bans Muslim women and men from wearing certain head coverings in public offices and universities.

The Turkish Constitution guarantees the religious freedom of all the country's residents, and a 1923 treaty guarantees that religious minorities will be allowed to found and operate religious and charitable institutions.

Secularists in Turkey see control of religion as the only way to guarantee Islam will not overpower the secularism of the state and its institutions.

However, the fact that the constitution and Turkish law do not recognize minority religious communities as legal entities has severely limited their ability to own property, and laws restricting private religious higher education have made it almost impossible for them to operate seminaries and schools of theology.

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to address the need for a broader understanding of the religious freedom guarantees during his Nov. 28-Dec. 1 visit to Turkey.

Otmar Oehring, head of the human rights office of Missio, the German Catholic aid and development agency, said that when the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 the Department of Religious Affairs was established "to crush Islam and replace it with Turkish nationalism, which was seen as the only way to promote the modernization and development of Turkey."

"But it is clear that you cannot take religion away from a religious country," Oehring said in a Nov. 15 telephone interview from Aachen, Germany. "Turks are not fundamentalists and radicals, but they are pious."

Oehring lived in Turkey until he was 16, and he wrote his doctoral thesis on ideological tensions within the country.

Once multiparty democracy was established in Turkey in the 1950s, he said, the Religious Affairs Department started opening more mosques and training and hiring more imams.

Although the effort to crush Islam was set aside, a conviction that religion had to be controlled was not, he said.

"The state controls and organizes a state brand of Islam," he said.

Particularly as Turkey's human rights record is examined as part of its bid to enter the European Union, "many say religious freedom in Turkey would be dangerous" because of a perceived threat of Islamic fundamentalism, Oehring said.

"However, I argue that under international human rights agreements people must be given full religious freedom, but the state can take action against those who pose a danger for public safety or the state," he said.

As far as religious rights go, "in Turkey they first say 'no,' then try to see how they can make it work. We say 'yes,' then work to prevent abuses," Oehring said.

While Turkish Muslims live their faith under government control, minority religious communities operate under government restrictions, and minorities often face discrimination in education and employment, he said.

"If you are a Turkish citizen of Turkish origin, with a Turkish name and you are a Sunni Muslim, you will have no problems," Oehring said. "But if you are Catholic -- or worse, Greek Orthodox with a Greek name -- you are considered a foreigner, even if you are a Turkish citizen."

One of the most difficult issues Christians, Jews and other religious minorities are facing is their lack of recognition under Turkish law, particularly as it applies to their ability to acquire and own property for churches or synagogues, schools and hospitals, he said.

Running seminaries is evening more difficult, Oehring said.

"In 1971, the government decided there would be no more private religious schools offering higher education," so the Greek and Armenian Orthodox seminaries were closed, he said. The Jewish community already was sending its rabbinical students abroad, and the Latin-rite Catholic seminary remained open since it was housed in the compound of the French consulate in Istanbul.

"The Muslim schools had already been closed in 1924 and were reopened as government-run high schools or faculties of divinity in Turkish universities," so the state controlled what the students learned, he said.

While many people recognize the continued closure of the seminaries as a problem, he said, "the Kemalists and secularists say if you give Christians the possibility of opening schools, Islamic schools not under state control also would have a right to open."

In early November, under pressure from the European Union, the Turkish Parliament passed a "religious foundations law" ordering the state to return property it owns that had been confiscated from religious communities. As of Nov. 15, the legislation had not been signed into law.

"A lot of church people prefer that this not become law because then the government can say it did what it was asked to do and nothing will change for another 20 years," Oehring said.

The biggest problem with the law, he said, is that it applies only to confiscated property still owned by the state, but it does not address the issue of compensation for confiscated property subsequently sold by the government.
11/17/2006 3:33 AM
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Turkey announces extra security plans for papal visit

Nov. 16 ( - Turkish authorities will deploy 4,000 police officers to handle security during the visit by Pope Benedict XVI, the AKI news service reports.

The government's plans for security during the papal visit-- which will be from November 28 to December 1-- include sharpshooters posted on rooftops and surveillance cameras in urban areas. The government will be monitoring the activities of militant groups as well and assigning extra police details to watch the crowds at papal appearances.

Turkish officials, who have been unenthusiastic about the Pope's arrival, have made a point of announcing that they will allow public protests against the Pontiff. However, those demonstrations will be kept within designated areas, they say, to minimize the possibility of confrontation.
11/18/2006 6:04 AM
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The Challenge of Protecting Pope Benedict XVI in Turkey

November 17, 2006 14 25 GMT
Stratfor World Terrorist Report

Editor's Note:When we first published this analysis, we incorrectly called Grand Mufti Ali Bardakoglu the deputy prime minister of Turkey. The error has been corrected.

Pope Benedict XVI will begin his first papal visit to a predominantly Muslim country Nov. 28 when he arrives in Turkey for four days of private meetings, public masses and other events. The trip, which already has generated some death threats against the pope, has both Turkish and Vatican security on high alert.

Tensions between Muslims and Benedict XVI flared up in September when the pope made remarks at Germany's University of Regensburg that seemed to refer to Islam as "evil." Although the pope later sought to clarify his comments, the incident reopened Muslim wounds caused by the controversy earlier in the year over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

In light of recent incidents -- as well as the ongoing militant threat in Turkey -- security officials in Turkey, Vatican City and Italy are taking threats against the pope very seriously. On Nov. 2, a Turkish man fired several shots at the Italian Consulate in Istanbul and threatened to shoot Benedict XVI during his visit to Turkey. The man, who was subsequently arrested, is believed to have acted alone. In Turkey, Mehmet Ali Acga, who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, said from prison Sept. 20 that Benedict XVI should not visit Turkey, and suggested that the pontiff's life would be in danger if he went ahead with his plans.

That same day, Rome's city prosecutor launched an investigation into threats against the pope posted on the Internet by Iraqi jihadist groups. The head of the prosecutor's anti-terrorism department said the investigation would focus on statements intended to incite people to take action against a head of state. Because the pope is the head of state of the Vatican, threats against him receive the same level of attention from intelligence and law enforcement as do threats against any other head of state. His status as head of state also affords him the highest level of protection.

At home in Vatican City, the pope is protected by two modern security corps: the centuries-old Swiss Guards and the Gendarmerie Corps of the State of Vatican City. Additional security is provided by plainclothes agents and Italian Carabinieri, federal police who patrol outside the square and stand ready as sharpshooters atop buildings during public ceremonies.

While abroad, the pope travels with a plainclothes security detail of Swiss Guards, which operates in a manner similar to the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) or the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), organizations charged with protecting the president and U.S. diplomats overseas. The Vatican's security forces are every bit as proficient as the USSS and DSS.

It is important to note, however, that the host country ultimately is responsible for protecting visiting heads of state. Thus, Turkey will collect intelligence on the national level in advance of and during the trip. In addition to Vatican and Turkish efforts, various other intelligence agencies will be looking for possible threats to the pope's safety.

Arrangements between Vatican and Turkish security forces would have been made months before the pope's visit, starting with an agreement between the two on how they will operate together. As part of the agreement, agents from Vatican security would have been deployed to Turkey about a month prior to the visit in order to assess the security situation and determine potential vulnerabilities at the sites the pontiff will visit. During this time, Vatican security will be working closely with the Turkish Security General Directorate and National Intelligence Agency, which will be compiling its own security assessments.

Sweeps for potential troublemakers already are under way in the cities the pope will visit, and Turkish police will pick up suspected subversives and mentally disturbed people who have made threats against the pope's life. To this end, Vatican security will provide a list of people who have attempted to contact the pope with threats. As the visit approaches, Turkish authorities will likely announce that several "thwarted plots" against the pope have been uncovered during these sweeps.

However, as media coverage heats up in the lead-up to the visit, the furor over the Regensburg remarks, and possibly the cartoons, could re-ignite, especially in a country that is more than 99 percent Muslim. In any case, demonstrations by religious and student groups can be expected, most likely at pre-authorized locations. In that case, vigilance by security forces will be high to ensure the protests do not get out of hand.

As the pope's arrival date approaches, security forces will take their positions around the locations on his itinerary. Sweeps for explosives will be conducted in these areas and countersniper support will be scanning rooftops and windows. Once in Turkey, Benedict XVI will travel in motorcades of armored vehicles, which will include decoy cars.

The pope plans to spend one night in Ankara and two in Istanbul, though information on his lodgings has not been released. Choices include the Holy See Embassy Residence in Ankara and the Hilton Istanbul hotel, where U.S. President George W. Bush stayed on his visit to Turkey in June 2004.

A hotel stay would present more security challenges for the pope's protective detail than would a stay in a state-owned residence. Should he lodge at a hotel, security will have to run checks on all the other guests staying there during his visit. Moreover, the day-to-day commercial operations of the hotel will present many security vulnerabilities, especially with caterers, laundry, cleaning staff and other personnel constantly coming and going.

A residence owned by the Vatican, on the other hand, can be better secured, and occupants and staff more thoroughly vetted to screen for infiltrators or individuals with nefarious agendas. There also would be less vulnerability from caterers, laundry and other hotel staff coming and going.

The pope's itinerary includes several stops in Ankara and Istanbul, as well as at the sites of ancient Christian communities in Smyrna and Ephesus. In Ankara, the pope will meet with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Turkey's highest Muslim authority, Grand Mufti Ali Bardakoglu, who is head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate. In addition to Vatican security, the pope will be protected by the high security that normally surrounds Turkish leaders. These meetings, as well as others with Turkish Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders, will take place at controlled venues and will be attended by screened and invited guests only. These venues also can be easily locked down and screened for improvised explosive devices.

Potentially vulnerable points will be at Meryem Ana Evi Shrine in Ephesus when the pope celebrates mass there Nov. 29, and at Istanbul's Cathedral of the Holy Ghost, where he will deliver a homily Dec. 1, the last day of his trip. Although those events are open to the public, the venues will be thoroughly swept for bombs beforehand, and all participants and the entire congregation will be screened for weapons and explosives.

Even without the tensions surrounding Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey, the history of attacks and plotted attacks against his predecessor requires that security be high at all times. The most serious attack in recent memory came when Acga shot Pope John Paul II twice in the abdomen as the pope entered St. Peter's Square in an open-air convertible. Almost a year after that attack, on May 12, 1982, an ultraconservative Spanish priest who believed the pope was an agent of Moscow approached John Paul in Fatima, Portugal, with the intent of stabbing him with a bayonet, though the man was stopped and arrested before he could reach the pontiff. In 1995, Abdel Basit plotted to kill Pope John Paul II during a visit to the Philippines.

Any papal visit to a foreign country presents significant security challenges. However, given the recent tensions between Christians and Muslims -- and particularly between this pope and Muslims -- this visit will require an even higher level of vigilance.
11/18/2006 5:55 PM
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John Allen devotes his ALL THINGS CATHOLIC column for 11/17/06 to the Pope's coming trip to Turkey.
Turkey's unique history
a challenge for the academic Pope

by John Allen Jr.

As Benedict XVI's Nov. 28-Dec. 1 trip to Turkey draws near, one concern both in the Vatican and at the Phanar,
the headquarters of the Patriarch of Constantinople, is that the post-Regensburg emphasis on Christian/Muslim
relations will overshadow the ecumenical thrust of the pope's visit, intended to cap several decades of
rapprochement between Rome and the "first among equals" in the Orthodox world.

One issue that could tie the two themes together is "reciprocity," meaning the demand that religious
minorities in Islamic states should receive the same rights and freedoms as Muslims in the West. Reciprocity is
a core element of Benedict's challenge to Muslims - inviting them to embrace reason with respect to religious
affairs - and the dismal conditions facing Turkey's small Christian population, including the tiny flock of
the Patriarch of Constantinople, offers a classic case in point.

Benedict will have to choose his words carefully, however, because there's a unique history in Turkey that could
easily make such a challenge sound like a threat. Over the centuries, European powers repeatedly intervened
in Turkey to demand special privileges for Christians, a process that many Turks associate with the slow
undermining of the Ottoman Empire. If the pope is to avoid awakening those historical ghosts, he'll have to find
a vocabulary that makes it clear he's talking about a matter of universal human dignity, not about special treatment
for Christians.

Although Turkey is one of the few majority Islamic states where conversion is not illegal, and where religious
tolerance is officially the law of the land, on the ground the playing field is far from level

Exact numbers are difficult to come by, but by any standard Turkey's Christians represent a tiny minority.
The Patriarch of Constantinople presides over perhaps as few as 2,000 souls. The Greek Orthodox presence in Turkey
was eviscerated by a "population exchange" between Greece and Turkey in 1922, when almost a million and half
Turkish citizens who were Orthodox Christians were sent packing to Greece, while a million Muslims in Greece were
thrust into Turkey. There are still some 100,000 Armenian Christians in Turkey, along with roughly 30,000 Catholics
divided across a variety of rites.

Whatever their numbers, there's no doubt that Christians face serious challenges, some of which are a de jure matter
of formal discrimination. Christians, for example, are barred from careers in the military, which is the ultimate
source of power and prestige in Turkish society.

Christian clergy usually are refused Turkish citizenship, no matter how long they've been in the country. Only recently
have they been able to obtain residency permits valid for more than a few months, paying a tax of 0.50 Euro (about 64 U.S.
cents) for every day in the country.

Because Christian churches have no legal personality, parishes and schools have to be bought and sold in the name
of private Turkish citizens, a requirement that generates all manner of property disputes and administrative headaches.
Seminaries for both the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Armenian Orthodox Church have been closed by government
order since 1971.

Often, however, the obstacles facing Christians are a matter of petty bureaucratic harassment rather than formal legal

In Mersin, for example, a port city on the Turkish Mediterranean, a handful of Capuchin missionaries once
operated a center for the formation of young Turkish Christians. Shortly after 2000, however, it was shut down
on the grounds that it was "not authorized by the Ministry of Public Instruction." The government moved to expropriate
the facility, triggering a legal challenge by the Capuchins which will probably drag on for years. The Capuchins
also offered courses in Italian and English for Turkish adults in Mersin, with no catechetical agenda, yet those
courses too were ordered closed.

In Adana, another Mediterranean city, a Catholic parish was forced to close in 2005 after a bar and disco opened up
in an adjacent space featuring round-the-clock, ear-splitting music. The mayor had promised the Catholic pastor
that the bar would be moved, especially since the spot was not zoned for commercial activity, but in the end
nothing happened. Eventually the parish closed because it became impossible to conduct normal pastoral activity.

Given that it's virtually impossible to obtain permission to build a new church in Turkey, today the few hundred
Catholics in Adana have to travel 80 kilometers to Mersin for Mass, while the pastor relocated to Iskenderun.

These and similar stories make up the daily fabric of Christian life in Turkey. Yet when I interviewed Patriarch
Mesrob II, head of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Turkey, last year, he rather surprisingly said he hoped Benedict
would not bring up such matters, saying it would amount to "interfering in the internal affairs of Turkey

Why the sensitivity?

Because Western challenges regarding the status of Christians in Turkey today don't occur in a historical vacuum.
In fact, there's a long and not terribly edifying history of foreign governments, especially Europeans, insisting
upon special privileges for Christians within the old Ottoman Empire, which from the 16th to the 20th century
was the main carrier of Islamic civilization.

Such appeals are associated in the Turkish mind with treachery and anti-Islamic hostility, so that Benedict's rhetoric
on "reciprocity" risks being misunderstood as merely the latest installment in a centuries-old story of Westerners
who don't have Turkey's best interests at heart using the status of Christians as a classic "Trojan Horse."

For centuries, Greeks and Armenians as well as other Christian groups within the Ottoman Empire prospered, so that
it was fairly easy for many Orthodox to say, "Rather the turban of the Turk than the tiara of the pope."

Part of the reason was that almost from the very beginning of Ottoman rule, the emperors granted a series of what
came to be known as "capitulations," first to the French in 1536, then to all foreign merchants operating in the empire.
These capitulations granted exemptions from various taxes and laws as well as a series of special privileges.
Eventually the capitulations were claimed as an extraterritorial right by all Christians living in Ottoman lands.

The system began at street level: Christian women, for example, were allowed to travel first-class on second-class
tickets on the ferries that criss-crossed the Bosphorus. A rumor widely believed in the late Ottoman period
is that a Christian thief being pursued by imperial police could throw his passport on the ground, touch it
with one toe, and thus claim the protection of the all-powerful foreign embassies.

When a new constitution was drawn up following the Young Turk revolution of 1908 which declared the equality of
all citizens before the law, some Turkish Christians actually protested on the grounds that such a principle
would mean surrendering their patchwork of special privileges and exemptions.

As foreign governments became increasingly vocal in defense of the Christians within the empire, and as Christians
became increasingly restless in asserting their rights, a feeling grew among Turks that Christians were not really
subjects of the same state, and that foreign advocacy on behalf of Christians really had as its aim weakening
the empire from within. Even today, the term "capitulation" for many Turks evokes memories of this past.

Thus if Benedict XVI elects to push the reciprocity issue in Turkey -- and there are powerful arguments for doing so --
he should understand that he doesn't begin with a blank slate. It will be important for the pope to make clear
that he's not talking about a new form of "capitulation" aimed at privileging Christians, or undermining Turkey's
power or prestige.

One possible way to do that is to engage the religious liberty issue across the board in Turkey, for Muslims as well
as Christians. It's still a delicate question in an officially secular state where many public forms of Islamic faith
and practice are discouraged or officially banned

Under the modernizing program of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey in the early 20th century, the Islamic
caliphate was abolished, Islamic courts and brotherhoods were banned, and both the female headscarf and the
traditional Turkish fez were prohibited. The Muslim calendar was replaced with the European system, polygamy was
banned, and the Turkish language was rendered into the Latin alphabet.

While many of these measures had the desired effect of placing Turkey on a pro-Western, modernizing course,
they also drove Islam underground and converted it into a permanent source of political radicalism. Today,
Turkey is struggling to strike a balance between healthy expressions of religious faith while at the same time
preserving the secular character of its state.

If Benedict phrases his reciprocity challenge in terms of a broad appeal for religious freedom for all Turkish
citizens, it could resonate with many Muslims who themselves feel frustrated with what many see as an overly
restrictive environment
. (A recent poll found that 68 percent of Turks regard the ban on headscarves, which is
widely flouted in practice, to be a violation of religious freedom). In the long run, this may prove a more
effective way of improving the lot of Turkish Christians, as opposed to a direct challenge on their behalf.

In any event, Turkey's history makes the reciprocity question especially complex, and especially challenging.
Benedict's performance in Turkey will be the first serious post-Regensburg test of whether this academic pope
has learned the main communications lesson of that episode -- that a dash of sensitivity to the intended audience
sometimes matters as much as intellectual coherence, and that carefully chosen words often determine whether
what is pitched is also what's caught.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 18/11/2006 20.23]

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