Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pope supports Turkey's entrance into the EU

Well it's about time the Pope did something right. It's reported today by the International Herald Tribune (IHT) that the Pope, against previous objections, now supports Turkey's entry into the European Union.

Quoting from the International Herald Tribune quoting from New York Times:
ANKARA: Pope Benedict XVI came to Turkey on Tuesday carrying a surprise gesture of goodwill that could blunt much of the Muslim anger against him: Publicly reversing his own personal objections, the pope gave his blessing to Turkey's deep and long- stalled desire to join the European Union.
And the Toronto Star reports that the tiny Christian community of Trabzon in Turkey hopes that the Pope's visit will improve relations between Christians and Muslims. It was in Trabzon that a Catholic priest, Father Andrea Santoro, was murdered by a 15 year old Muslim last February. The Muslims of Trabzon, though, say reconciliation must start with a full apology — something the Pope has stopped short of offering.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a devout Muslim with roots in political Islam, did meet the pontiff at Ankara's airport while waiting to fly to a NATO summit in Latvia. Erdogan had initially said he would not meet the Pope because the visit clashed with the summit — a move that was widely interpreted as a snub.

The reason the Pope is visiting Turkey is to repair a 1,000 year old rift between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The invitation to the Pope was issued by the head of the Orthodox Church the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Turkey is an officially secular state but Islam is deeply rooted in the Turkish sense of identity. There's a palpable suspicion of Christians, even though they make up less than 1 per cent of the population of 70 million. A state minister recently noted 293 people were charged with "missionary activity" from 1998 to 2001.

There may be things hopeful here. Hopeful for Christian-Muslim relations, for Turkey's admission to the EU something they have wanted for a long time.

The teach :)

No comments: