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.
The following is the perfect summation of the internal conflict that goes on on how to deal with Islam.
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.”
Father Justo Lacunza-Balda sums it up perfectly. We're going to be waiting forever for the 'perfect' opportunity to engage with Islam since it's never going to happen. For instance, the Hoover Institution's Policy Review has this to say in an article on Islamist inmates interviewed in France:
In light of the violence associated with Islamism, it has become common to hear from Western observers that Islam as such needs to pass through its “reformation.” But the emphasis placed by these inmates on their personal and unmediated relation to the text of the Quran suggests, on the contrary, that contemporary Islamism may well be the Islamic equivalent of the Reformation.11 It is worth recalling in this connection that the historical Reformation of Christianity also gave rise both to extreme rigorist currents (Calvinism) and to violent Millenarian sects.
The reformation of Islam has already happened. The questions are two. When will the West figure it out and how will the West engage it?
Following up on this: VATICAN: POPE NOT TO MEET PM ERDOGAN DURING VISIT
There will be no official meeting between the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pope Benedict XVI when the pontiff visits Turkey on 28 November-1 December, according to the Turkish embassy in Rome. Erdogan will be attending a NATO summit in Riga, Estonia, "a very important appointment for us," explained embassy staff. In effect the official programme of the papal visit released by the prime minsiter's office made no mention of an encounter between the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the leaders of the Islamist-based Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The Pope will however meet the president, Necdet Sezer, and the head of the religious affairs directorate, Ali' Bardakoglu, the grand mufti of Turkey.
Following up on this: Campbell reveals Pope’s plan
- [Newry Democrat]
Francis Campbell, who was brought up in Rathfriland and attended St Colman's College in Newry, told the Irish News that a planned visit by Pope Benedict XVI is already in motion.
"A programme for a visit has already been brought together," said Mr Campbell. "Now it is really a matter for the Vatican and the Pope's dairy." A delegation of Irish bishops returned home from Rome on Sunday after a two-week stay and it is has been reported that they met with Mr Campbell and discussed the possibility of the visit coinciding with a visit by the Queen.
New archpriest for Vatican basilica
Archbishop Angelo Comastri, the vicar general of the Vatican city-state, has been named by Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) to be archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica. He replaced Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, who has resigned at the age of 77.
Archbishop Comastri, a 63-year-old native of Tuscany, was ordained to the priesthood in 1967 and became Bishop of Massa Marittima-Piombino in 1990. In 1996 he was appointed Archbishop of Loretto, and in February 2005 he became vicar general of Vatican City and coadjutor to Cardinal Marchisano.
The Italian archbishop is known for his Marian devotion, and in March 2003 he was chosen by Pope John Paul II (bio - news) to preach the annual Lenten retreat for the Roman Curia, on the theme of Mary, Mother of Christ. In 2005 he was asked by Pope Benedict XVI to write the meditations for the Way of the Cross on Good Friday.
The archbishop was at one point considered one of the top Papabili in the run up to the election of Benedict XVI. Since then his stock has seemingly fallen among Vaticanisti. Yet he continues to collect positions in Rome.