Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The prayer in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque was “not initially planned but it turned out to be very meaningful”. It was a prayer to the “one Lord of heaven and earth, merciful father of all mankind”. Addressing today’s general audience, this was how Benedict XVI described his silent prayer on 30 November in Istanbul.
The Pope “thanked divine Providence for this” and said: “May all believers identify themselves with the one God and bear witness to true brotherhood.”
The Pontiff augured that Turkey “will be a bridge of friendship and collaboration between East and West” and he thanked the Turkish people “for the cordiality and sympathy” they showed him throughout his stay, when “he felt loved and understood”.
For Benedict XVI, in secular Turkey, “the distinction between civil and religious spheres constitutes a principle and the State should guarantee effective religious freedom.” At the same time, he continued, “Christians and Muslims should collaborate together on issues like justice, peace and life.”
The Pope then prayed to God, so that He may “help the Turkish people, their rulers and representatives of different religions to build a future of peace together” and so that He may “make this apostolic journey fruitful and animate across the world the Church’s mission to announce to all nations the Gospel of truth, peace and love.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, dwelt on the same subject during a speech delivered after last Sunday’s function. He said: “We are sure that the voyage of the Holy Father to the Ecumenical Patriarchate will bear fruits for dialogue between Christian churches, especially between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and more generally to inter-religious dialogue. This real improvement in our ties will contribute to peace on our planet.”
The Ecumenical Patriarchate, he added, “has long been an initiator and promoter of dialogue between religions and civilizations: it sees with great satisfaction the desire for improvement in interpersonal relations worldwide.”