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    » 12/01/2006, 00.00


    Pope: Church asks only to live in freedom

    Franco Pisano

    Before leaving Turkey, Benedict XVI celebrated mass in the Catholic cathedral and once again raised ties with Islam. By our special correspondent.

    Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Another call for freedom for the Church which accompanies Muslims and an exhortation to Turkey's small Christian communities to live together in love. This was the final message of the Pope's visit, delivered this morning to around 2,000 people who participated in mass celebrated by Benedict XVI in Istanbul, his last engagement before leaving for Rome.

    Young people stood in the small courtyard of the nineteenth-century church of the Holy Spirit, the Latin cathedral of Istanbul, cheering at the arrival of the Pope and Patriarch Bartholomew, chanting their names. On one wall, there was a poster with their images. There, upon his arrival, the Pope freed three white doves and then blessed a statue of John XXIII, the "Turkish Pope", as Pope Roncalli was described when he was elected, in memory of the 10 years he spent in this country where he is still remembered with respect and affection. The statue, intended for the Church of St Anthony, stood not far from that of Benedict XV, erected by the Turks in 1919 in memory of his appeals against the World War, with the inscription: "To the great pontiff of the global tragedy, benefactor of all peoples, regardless of nation or creed, as a sign of gratitude, the East."

    The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, and the Syro-Orthodox Metropolitan Fuluksinos Yusuf Cetin, attended the religious rite; all met Benedict XVI yesterday. The meeting with Bartholomew, who entered the church by the Pope's side – and who participated in three celebrations with Benedict XVI in two days – was the main reason for the voyage. This, however, did not stop public opinion from focusing above all on ties with Islam.

    Benedict XVI dwelt upon these ties in the packed church. He said: "Your communities walk the humble path of daily companionship with those who do not share our faith, but who declare 'to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God' (Lumen Gentium, n.16). You know well that the church wishes to impose nothing on anyone, and that she merely asks to live in freedom to reveal He who she cannot hide."

    The celebration had an inter-ritual character, in that Catholic communities of different languages and rites took part. Monks with cowls and Metropolitans in their great mantles stood by the altar. For all of them, there was a papal exhortation to fraternity, which rounded up the homily: "Always be open to the spirit of Christ and hence be attentive to those who thirst for justice, peace, dignity, for consideration for themselves and for their brothers. Live among yourselves according to the word of the Lord: 'by these they will know you are my disciples, if you love one another'."

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    See also

    01/12/2006 VATICAN – TURKEY
    Pope back from Turkey pleased with progress in dialogue
    The prayer in the Blue Mosque shows respect for Islam and should improve the situation of Christians living in Muslim countries. Reactions in the ecumenical Patriarchate to the visit are positive in terms of long-term ecumenism.

    01/08/2007 TURKEY
    Plot against the ecumenical Patriarch foiled
    The Istanbul public attorney’s office is investigating a group of ex army officers who seem to have plotted to eliminate Bartholomew I as well as Mesrob of the Armenians. The Turkish Supreme Court ruling contesting the ecumenical title of the Patriarchate is discussed in Brussels and finds an unlikely ally in the Church of Moscow.

    29/11/2006 VATICAN – TURKEY
    Benedict XVI meets Bartholomew I, together for full unity
    The visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the main reason for the Pope's trip to Turkey on the Feast Day of Saint Andrew. A joint statement is expected tomorrow. Istanbul is under tight security.

    27/11/2006 TURKEY - VATICAN
    Turkey's Catholics, Orthodox pray for pope's arrival

    Christians must travel for 18 hours to participate in mass with Benedict XVI in Ephesus. The pontiff's words in yesterday's Angelus about the "dear Turkish people" have been described by the media as a "warm and friendly message".

    29/09/2006 TURKEY - VATICAN
    Pope in Turkey to have bearing on ecumenism, ties with Islam, human rights

    The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I believes the pope's visit may prompt the Turkish government to respect the rights of minorities, different ethnic groups and religions. Dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox is at a "crucial point" about the primacy of the bishop of Rome.

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