Leader Warns Turks Ahead of Pope's Visit

November 19, 2006

Source: Beliefnet

Wire Service: AP


The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians cautioned Turks in an interview published Sunday against creating potential "unpleasant incidents" during Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming trip to Turkey.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said in an interview published in the Sabah newspaper Sunday that the pope's Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 trip was a great opportunity for Turkey, and he would tell the pontiff that the country belonged in the European Union, which Ankara has long sought to join.

The pope's visit to Turkey was born out of Benedict's desire to meet Bartholomew, who has his headquarters in Istanbul, once ancient Constantinople. The pontiff has been trying to foster better relations between the Orthodox and Catholics, and will meet privately with Bartholomew on Nov. 29.

Authorities in Turkey - a Muslim country - have said they expect protests against the pope, who angered Muslims by a speech he made in September in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor's remarks about Islam and violence.