Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The Turkish Catholic Church is trying to regain possession of 200 properties confiscated by the government in Ankara in the 1930s. But several elements of the community think the church should focus its efforts on the legal recognition of the community.
A few days ago,
some Catholic bishops, including Msgr. Ruggero
Franceschini, president of the Episcopal Conference, met with the Commission
for Reconciliation of the Turkish parliament. The
Commission has been working to study the return of properties confiscated by
the government of Ataturk to non-Muslim communities (see: 29/08/2011 Historic
decision: Erdogan returns seized property to religious minorities). But
Catholics are not in the list of "non-Muslim communities" because at
the time they were recognized as a "foreign" community.
The Turkish Church has submitted a list of over 200 properties (churches, schools, orphanages, hospitals, cemeteries, ...) based on a list drawn up in 1913 between the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and France, erstwhile protector of the Church Catholic.
The problem of
return of these properties is very complex: first, these assets have passed
from hand to hand and it is not certain that they can be returned. But
the most important issue is the lack of legal status of the Catholic Church in
the current Turkish law. To
date, the Catholic Church in Turkey
can not own property and these can only be made payable to Turkish private
citizens (often secular or church-related nominee), with ambiguous
Several political parties and newspapers have taken on the requests of the bishops, judging them "greedy". The request has embarrassed other Christian communities.
Some Church Turkish figures have stressed to AsiaNews that the real problem that needs to be addressed it is
obtaining legal recognition by the State. Sources
close to the episcopate state that this topic was not even addressed at the
meeting with the Commission for Reconciliation,.
"On this recognition - said the apostolic nuncio in Turkey, Mgr. Antonio Lucibello - there are pour parler dating for decades. Even the pope, in meeting the new Turkish ambassador to the Vatican [January 7, 2010], once again asked for the legal recognition of the Catholic Church. This recognition should have already been granted because a country like Turkey has relations with the Holy See for 60 years and really should give this recognition : it would be a logical consequence because the Church in Turkey is in a sense as a derivation of the Holy See. "
According to experts, the forthcoming Turkish constitutional reform could lead to openings for the legal recognition of the Catholic Church.