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November 30, 2006

Information and Prayer for the Pope's Visit to Turkey

I have moved this post to the top and will keep it there until the end of Pope's journey to Turkey, adding more each day related to the trip.  Scroll down for other new posts.

Background and Overview Information

Christopher Blosser has an extensive post titled "Anticipating Pope Benedict's Papal Visit to Turkey" with much information and analysis about the country, its Muslim population's view of the Pope and his lecture at Regensburg, the Pope's view of Islam, and the journey that David Van Bierna in Time Magazine says "has the potential to define his papacy."

John L. Allen, Jr. is posting frequent and very informative articles at  NCR Cafe.

The American Papist is following the news in anticipation of the journey, and Papa Ratzinger Forum has a section devoted to the journey. 

The Vatican has published an itinerary for the journey, which will take place this coming Tuesday through Friday, November 28 to December 1.

Zenit has posted the Introduction to the Missal that the Pope will follow during the journey, which can also be found on the Vatican website.  It includes statements about the significance of the Apostolic Journey, and provides information about plans for celebrations with the Catholic community and ecumenical celebrations.

Television coverage for the journey will be provided by EWTN beginning November 28.  To watch EWTN live online, go to the main page, hold your cursor over "Television" at the top of the page, then over "Live TV - English", and then select Real Video or Windows Media.  A different EWTN page has the schedule of its broadcasts planned for the trip.  Television coverage also will be provided live online by KTO (French Catholic television).  KTO may have some archived videos available for watching online  at a later date, as they do for the journey to Bavaria.

Vatican Radio has a page on apostolic visits, which will probably include some radio news broadcasts as well as written texts of the Pope's homilies and addresses during the journey.  Vatican Radio has an  Arabic site for Christian readers in Arabic speaking countries.

Yahoo's Papacy and the Vatican slideshow officers photos of the journey.

Le Figaro offers an interactive map and photos of each of the locations on the Pope's itinerary. (No need to read French to view the map and photos. Click on the orange arrow.)

Prayer for the Journey:

The Knights of Columbus has organized a spiritual pilgrimage to accompany the Pope in prayer as he journeys to Turkey, beginning tomorrow with the Solemnity of Christ the King.  Printable (.pdf) versions of the prayer can be downloaded from the K of C site.  Here is the prayer that appears on the Knights of Columbus website, which all Catholics are asked to pray daily:

"Heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, we humbly ask that you sustain, inspire, and protect your servant, Pope Benedict XVI, as he goes on pilgrimage to Turkey – a land to which St. Paul brought the Gospel of your Son; a land where once the Mother of your Son, the Seat of Wisdom, dwelt; a land where faith in your Son’s true divinity was definitively professed. Bless our Holy Father, who comes as a messenger of truth and love to all people of faith and good will dwelling in this land so rich in history.  In the power of the Holy Spirit, may this visit of the Holy Father bring about deeper ties of understanding, cooperation, and peace among Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and those who profess Islam.  May the prayers and events of these historic days greatly contribute both to greater accord among those who worship you, the living and true God, and also to peace in our world so often torn apart by war and sectarian violence.

"We also ask, O Heavenly Father, that you watch over and protect Pope Benedict and entrust him to the loving care of Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, a title cherished both by Catholics and Muslims. Through her prayers and maternal love, may Pope Benedict be kept safe from all harm as he prays, bears witness to the Gospel, and invites all peoples to a dialogue of faith, reason, and love.  We make our prayer through Christ, our Lord.  Amen."

Monday, November 27:

The Pope has added to his itinerary a visit to Istanbul's Blue Mosque.  Turkey's prime minister has agreed to meet the Pope Tuesday at the Ankara airport before departing for a NATO summit.

Security measures will be unprecedented for Turkey.  The greatest risk may be to the churches, homes and businesses of ordinary Christian families rather than to the Pope and those accompanying him, according to a quote from anti-terrorist expert Ely Karmon at NCR Cafe.  Part of the problem is that Turkish nationalists identify Christianity with the nation's rival, which is Greece.

Meanwhile, in the political background, AFP reported this morning that negotiations between the European Union and Turkey have broken off over the issue of opening Turkey's ports and airports to Cyprus.  Discussions are now expected over whether to suspend Turkey's EU accession negotiations.   A  decision is not expected until December 11.  The Pope's visit had nothing to do with this decision.  The Pope's opposition to EU membership for Turkey, years ago, has been mentioned in recent news articles, and ANSA has now reported that Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has stated that he hopes Turkey can fulfill requirements for EU membership.  While the latter statement was conciliatory, it could be construed as a reference to such issues as Cyprus.

3,000 reporters are expected to cover the story of this apostolic journey.

Tuesday, November 28:

On departure this morning from Rome, the Pope told journalists that his journey is "pastoral, not political."

John L. Allen, Jr. reports on the Pope's answers to 3 questions from reporters on the plane.  The Pope spoke of the importance of dialogue and brotherhood with Muslims, Turkey's bid for EU membership, its constitution rooted in the French constitution, the importance of his meeting with Bartholomew I, and the historic importance of Constantinople to Christianity.

John Allen also reports on the Pope's brief meeting with Turkey's prime minister at the airport in Ankara, a meeting that reportedly was uncertain until the last minute.  The Vatican viewed it as a positive sign, while the Italian press saw it as an effort by the Turkish government to avoid the freeze in negotiations for its admission to the EU, according to L'Evangile de la Vie.

Articles on the Pope's arrival are also available from Catholic News Service and Catholic News Agency.

Address to the President's Office of Religious Affairs:  Vatican Radio has published the transcript of the Pope's address to the President of Turkey's Office of Religious Affairs today in Ankara, also available on the Vatican website and Zenit.  The address was given in English.  He spoke of his love for the Turks, the spiritual bond that unites Muslims and Christians, and the wish to come to know each other better.  He also mentioned the importance of freedom of religion for individuals and communities, and .  Here is an excerpt from his expression of what Muslims and Christians can accomplish together:

". . . . As men and women of religion, we are challenged by the widespread longing for justice, development, solidarity, freedom, security, peace, defence of life, protection of the environment and of the resources of the earth. This is because we too, while respecting the legitimate autonomy of temporal affairs, have a specific contribution to offer in the search for proper solutions to these pressing questions.

"Above all, we can offer a credible response to the question which emerges clearly from today’s society, even if it is often brushed aside, the question about the meaning and purpose of life, for each individual and for humanity as a whole. We are called to work together, so as to help society to open itself to the transcendent, giving Almighty God his rightful place. The best way forward is via authentic dialogue between Christians and Muslims, based on truth and inspired by a sincere wish to know one another better, respecting differences and recognizing what we have in common. This will lead to an authentic respect for the responsible choices that each person makes, especially those pertaining to fundamental values and to personal religious convictions."

Speech to the Diplomatic Corp: Vatican Radio also has a translation of the Pope's Speech to the Diplomatic Corp, given at the Apostolic Nunciature in Ankara, also available on the Vatican website and Zenit.  That address was given primarily in French, as the language of diplomacy.  He stated that he had "come here as a friend and as an apostle of dialogue and peace."  He spoke of the importance of international institutions, authentic debate, and the threats posed by spreading terrorist action.  He encouraged freedom of religion in the secular state of Turkey, to people of various religions, adding that the presence of religions as a source of progress and enrichment for all "assumes, of course, that religions do not seek to exercise direct political power, as that is not their province, and it also assumes that they utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence as a legitimate expression of religion."  He spoke of the different roles of the Church and the international community in matters of interest to both, and mentioned a wish to cooperate with Muslims to promote "peace, liberty, social justice, and moral values."

Here is an excerpt:

"Assuredly, recognition of the positive role of religions within the fabric of society can and must impel us to explore more deeply their knowledge of man and to respect his dignity, by placing him at the centre of political, economic, cultural and social activity. Our world must come to realize that all people are linked by profound solidarity with one another, and they must be encouraged to assert their historical and cultural differences not for the sake of confrontation, but in order to foster mutual respect."

According to Christian News Service, after the speech, the Pope greeted each diplomat individually and gave them papal medallions.

Thoughts about the day from Vatican Radio's translator, Sister Janet.

Wednesday, November 29:

Vatican Radio has a broadcast about the day's planned events, centering on Ephesus.

The Pope visited a remote location to see the Marian shrine that is called "Mary's house" ("Meryem Ana Evì" in Turkey) and is said to have been the place where the Blessed Virgin Mary died.  It is the only Marian shrine that is visited by as many Muslims as Christians.  There is no archaeological evidence to support the idea that Mary lived there.  However, German mystic Blessed Anna Katharina Emmerick identified it as the spot where Mary spent her last days based upon one of her visions, and the Lazarist Fathers founded the sanctuary there in the 19th century based on that vision.

The Catholic view of shrines in the Holy Land is discussed in "The Shrine: Memory, Presence and Prophecy of the Living God," issued by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in 1999.

The Pope's homily at the shrine is already available in English from the Vatican website and also at Zenit.  The Pope spoke to a small crowd of only about 300 people, about half of them Germans from the nearby German-language parish of St. Nicholas.  He prayed the opening collect in Turkish.  He spoke of his love for the Christians of Turkey, who are a small minority facing hardships.  He prayed for Father Andrea Santoro, a missionary who was killed in Turkey in February.  Here is an excerpt from his words about Mary (links added):

"Looking down from the Cross at his Mother and the beloved disciple by her side, the dying Christ recognized the first fruits of the family which he had come to form in the world, the beginning of the Church and the new humanity. For this reason, he addressed Mary as "Woman", not as "Mother", the term which he was to use in entrusting her to his disciple: "Behold your Mother!" (Jn. 19:27). The Son of God thus fulfilled his mission: born of the Virgin in order to share our human condition in everything but sin, at his return to the Father he left behind in the world the sacrament of the unity of the human race (cf. "Lumen Gentium," 1): the family "brought into unity from the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Saint Cyprian, "De Orat. Dom.," 23: PL 4, 536), at whose heart is this new bond between the Mother and the disciple. Mary's divine motherhood and her ecclesial motherhood are thus inseparably united."

John L. Allen, Jr. reports: "In Ephesus, Supreme Pontiff becomes a simple country pastor"

Today, he will also meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Orthodox Church's "Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and the New Rome".  This ecumenical meeting has been the primary purpose of the journey, although media attention and the need to respond to Muslim reaction to September's lecture at Regensburg have given more importance to Christian-Muslim dialogue than was originally anticipated.

Catholic News Agency has an article about the Pope's meeting and prayer with Bartholomew I in Istanbul this afternoon.  Sister Janet explained that 2 of the hymns were written for the occasion by the monks at Mount Athos.  One of those hymns was in honor of Pope Benedict.  Sister Janet wrote:

"It was lovely to see the genuine appreciation of this hymn by the Holy Father, who could, of course, understand what he was hearing. There was the combined appreciation of the theologian and the musician and so he forgot his tiredness. The familiar little discreet smile of enjoyment of moments when he can’t just grin was lovely to see."

Bartholomew I's welcome address to Benedict XVI is available from Zenit .  In the Ecumenical Patriarch's English translation, here is the entire address:

"Your Holiness, beloved Brother in the Lord,

"It is with sentiments of sincere joy and satisfaction that we welcome you to the sacred and historical city of Istanbul.

"This is a city that has known a treasured heritage for the growth of the Church through the ages. It is here that St. Andrew, the "first-called" of the Apostles founded the local Church of Byzantium and installed St. Stachys as its first bishop. It is here that the Emperor and "equal-to-the-Apostles," St. Constantine the Great, established the New Rome. It is here that the Great Councils of the early Church convened to formulate the Symbol of Faith. It is here that martyrs and saints, bishops and monks, theologians and teachers, together with a "cloud of witnesses" confessed what the prophets saw, what the apostles taught, what the Church received, what the teachers formulated in doctrine, what the world understood, what grace has shone, namely … the truth that was received, the faith of the fathers. This is the faith of the Orthodox. This faith has established the universe.

"So it is with open embrace that we welcome you on the blessed occasion of your first visit to the City, just as our predecessors, Ecumenical Patriarchs Athenagoras and Demetrios, had welcomed your predecessors, Popes Paul VI and John Paul II. These venerable men of the Church sensed the inestimable value and urgent need alike of such encounters in the process of reconciliation through a dialogue of love and truth.

"Therefore, we are, both of us, as their successors and as successors to the Thrones of Rome and New Rome equally accountable for the steps -- just, of course, as we are for any missteps -- along the journey and in our struggle to obey the command of our Lord, that His disciples "may be one."

"It was in this spirit that, by the grace of God, we visited repeatedly Rome and two years ago in order to accompany the relics of Saints Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, formerly Archbishops of this City, whose sacred remains were generously returned to this Patriarchal Cathedral by the late Pope. It was in this spirit, too, that we traveled to Rome only months later to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul.

"We are deeply grateful to God that Your Holiness has taken similar steps today in the same spirit. We offer thanks to God in doxology and express thanks also to Your Holiness in fraternal love.

"Beloved Brother, welcome. "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord."

"Blessed is the Name of the Lord now and forevermore."

The Holy Father's address to the Ecumenical Patriarch is available from Zenit and Vatican Radio.  Again, here is the entire address in a text issued by the Holy See:

"'Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity' (Ps 133:1)

"Your Holiness,

"I am deeply grateful for the fraternal welcome extended to me by you personally, and by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. I will treasure its memory forever. I thank the Lord for the grace of this encounter, so filled with authentic goodwill and ecclesial significance.

"It gives me great joy to be among you, my brothers in Christ, in this Cathedral Church, as we pray together to the Lord and call to mind the momentous events that have sustained our commitment to work for the full unity of Catholics and Orthodox. I wish above all to recall the courageous decision to remove the memory of the anathemas of 1054. The joint declaration of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, written in a spirit of rediscovered love, was solemnly read in a celebration held simultaneously in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome and in this Patriarchal Cathedral. The Tomos of the Patriarch was based on the Johannine profession of faith: "Ho Theós agapé estin" (1 Jn 4:9), Deus caritas est! In perfect agreement, Pope Paul VI chose to begin his own Brief with the Pauline exhortation: "Ambulate in dilectione" (Eph 5:2), "Walk in love." It is on this foundation of mutual love that new relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople have developed.

"Signs of this love have been evident in numerous declarations of shared commitment and many meaningful gestures. Both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II were warmly received as visitors in this Church of Saint George, and joined respectively with Patriarchs Athenagoras I and Dimitrios I in strengthening the impetus towards mutual understanding and the quest of full unity. May their names be honored and blessed!

"I also rejoice to be in this land so closely connected to the Christian faith, where many Churches flourished in ancient times. I think of Saint Peter's exhortations to the early Christian communities "in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" (1 Pet 1:1), and the rich harvest of martyrs, theologians, pastors, monastics, and holy men and women which those Churches brought forth over the centuries.

"I likewise recall the outstanding saints and pastors who have watched over the See of Constantinople, among them Saint Gregory of Nazianzus and Saint John Chrysostom, whom the West also honors as Doctors of the Church. Their relics rest in the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, and a part of them were given to Your Holiness as a sign of communion by the late Pope John Paul II for veneration in this very Cathedral. Truly, they are worthy intercessors for us before the Lord.

"In this part of the Eastern world were also held the seven Ecumenical Councils which Orthodox and Catholics alike acknowledge as authoritative for the faith and discipline of the Church. They are enduring milestones and guides along our path towards full unity.

"I conclude by expressing once more my joy to be with you. May this meeting strengthen our mutual affection and renew our common commitment to persevere on the journey leading to reconciliation and the peace of the Churches.

"I greet you in the love of Christ. May the Lord be always with you."

Meanwhile, in the political background, the EU's executive arm today recommended cutting off talks with Turkey on 8 of the 35 issues considered for European Union membership, with the talks to continue at a slower pace than before.  The Turkish prime minister, who is at the NATO summit in Latvia, said this was not acceptable.  The Washington Post reports on the events related to Turkey's efforts to obtain EU membership, ongoing while the Pope is in Turkey.

Thursday, November 30:

The Ecumenical Patriarchate website has a page of photos of the Pope with Bartholomew I today.  That website also has an article about the Pope's arrival today at the patriarchate for the liturgical celebration of St. Andrew the Apostle.  Vatican Radio has a broadcast about the occasion.  (The Pope spoke about St. Andrew at the General Audience on June 14).

The Patriarchate's website also has posted Bartholomew I's homily.  Vatican Radio has posted Pope Benedict's speech at the Patriarchal Cathedral today.

Both the Patriarchate and Vatican Radio have posted their Common Declaration signed today during their visit. 

John L. Allen, Jr., comments: "Great symbols from pope and patriarch, but no breakthroughsCatholic News Service has an article about the day, saying that the Pope and Bartholomew I affirmed their commitment to unity.  Catholic News Agency has an article, saying that this celebration with Bartholomew I of the major Feast of St. Andrew was his top objective.

The Pope's itinerary for today included:

A visit to Hagia Sophia which lasted 20 minutes (the seat of the patriarchate for many centuries, then a monk for several centuries, and now a museum).  KTO has the video archived online for viewing (click on "Regarder le Video").

A visit to the Blue Mosque (Catholic World News and Catholic News Service have articles about that).  Although some of the media have reported that Pope Benedict prayed, or even that he prayed toward Mecca (Such as Deutsche Welle: "the pope turned towards Mecca in a gesture of Muslim prayer"), the significance of the gesture, a sign of respect, has drawn discussion.   Catholic News Service explained:

"Then, as they drew close to the carved marble 'mihrab,' the grand mufti told the pontiff: 'In this space everyone stops to pray for 30 seconds, to gain serenity.'

"The mufti told the pope he was going to pray. The pope, his arms folded over his pectoral cross, stood next to the mufti and moved his lips, a moment shown in close-up on Turkish TV.

"When they turned away, according to a reporter on the scene, the pope told the mufti, 'Thank you for this moment of prayer.'"

Asia News reported:

"Two minutes of silence, a prayer made obvious only by the moving lips of Benedict XVI and the imam of the Blue Mosque. Different prayers, of course, elicited by the Pope who said—“Let us pray for brotherhood and the good of humanity!—in response to the imam, who during the visit to Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, showed the Pontiff the Muslim prayer book, saying that “each Muslim prayer begins with the name of Allah; Allah is the name of God”. Having placed his hand on the book, the Pope invited those presents to pray. At the moment he was in front of the mihrab, the niche in direction of Makkah.

"Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Room, denied there was a prayer. “The Pope,” he said, “stood before the Mihrab in meditation and he certainly turned his thoughts to God”.

"However one may want to characterise what Benedict XVI did, it has an illustrious precedent in John Paul I’s prayer in the Damascus Mosque, although there it took place before the spot that is traditionally considered to be the burial place of John the Baptist.

"The “meditation” occurred in the afternoon, which was set aside for visits to three places each in its way linked to religion: Saint Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Armenian Cathedral of Saint Mary."

His last stop of the day was for a moment of prayer, to celebrate the Word in the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral, and meeting there with Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Mesrob II.  According to Asia News:

"In his greeting, Benedict XVI made a reference to the Armenian genocide. 'I give thanks to God,' he said in fact, 'for the faith and Christian witness of the Armenian people, passed on from one generation to the next, often in truly tragic circumstances like those endured in the last century'."

The Vatican's program for the day indicated that the Pope's day would also include a meeting with Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Filuksinos Yusuf Cetin, a meeting with the Grand Rabbi of Turkey, and a meeting and dinner with members of the Catholic Episcopal Conference.

Teresa Benedetta at Papa Ratzinger Forum discusses the Pope's later meetings of the day, which apparently took place after the news media filed their reports.  His visit to the Blue Mosque concluded around 4:00 p.m.  He visited the Armenian Cathedral at 6:00 p.m. and then returned to the Apostolic Nunciature, where he met with the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan and the Grand Rabbi of Turkey.

At 6:30 p.m., he greeted a group of local Catholic youth who were outside of his window.  Teresa Benedetta describes this unplanned occurrence:

"An encounter with Catholic youths - leaning out the window of the Apostolic Nunciature, and remaining there for five long minutes as 500 Catholic youths, almost all from Istanbul, sang and prayed.

It was an event of great simplicity - with the Pope smiling and later giving them his blessing.

The young people had prepared this prayer rally with songs, psalms and prayers - and so they did, for at least three-quarters of an hour in the gardens of the Nunciature.

Jubilation when the Pope showed himself, leaning out the window to be able to see them better. Later he told them that he would carry them always in his heart and would remember them every day in his prayers.

When the youths sang "Stay with us" in Turkish, he answered, "But the Lord is always with us."


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