Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey
website on the papal visit
Significance of Benedict XVI's Trip to
Presented by Archbishop Marini, Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Introduction to
the missal that Benedict XVI will follow during his apostolic
to Turkey, this coming Tuesday to Friday. It was prepared by Archbishop
Piero Marini, master of the liturgical celebrations of the Supreme
* * *
1. The Significance of the
In the footsteps of his predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II, His
Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to honor the land of Turkey with
one of the first Apostolic Journeys of his Pontificate. Turkey is
spread over a vast region which, not without reason, has been called
"the Holy Land of the Church". It was there that the Christian
community, particularly in the great centers of Antioch and Ephesus,
became conscious of her identity and consolidated her growth. There the
Church opened out to the ancient world in a process of inculturation
and adaptation which made her truly "catholic", open to all cultural
expressions. Furthermore, this land was the starting-point for the
first evangelization of both the Far East and the Slav peoples.
It was not by chance that most of the writings that make up the New
Testament originated in this land or were addressed to its Christian
communities. Two of those biblical authors, Paul of Tarsus and Luke of
Antioch, are among the first witnesses to a Church that in the course
of the centuries saw a rich flowering of outstanding figures who left
their mark on the whole of Christianity. We need but recall the
Cappadocian Fathers, and those of Antioch and the Syria, to say nothing
of the ranks of martyrs and ascetics whom even today the liturgy offers
us as models of Christian life.
The journey of the Bishop of Rome to Turkey takes place between two
significant dates that recall those illustrious witnesses of the faith:
the seventeenth centenary of the birth of Ephrem the Syrian (306) and
the eighteenth centenary of the death of John Chrysostom (407).
Both are splendid rays of that "light from the East" which the Holy
Father John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter "Orientale Lumen" (1994),
wished to reaffirm, so that the universal Church would treasure the
rich witness, wisdom and spirituality of the Christian East and would
look back with nostalgia to the first Christian millennium, when the
Church lived in unity.
In a pluralistic age like our own, the manifold riches of the various
religious traditions, past and present, found in the land of Turkey
bear witness to the fact that pluralism in liturgical and spiritual
expressions, and unity of faith in Christ the Lord, can be combined
harmoniously. The Holy Father has rightly spoken of dialogue as a
"polyphony of cultures".
This principle is true for the various Christian confessions, but it is
also applicable to the dialogue between Christians and the followers of
Islam. Shadows from the past cannot obscure the light radiating from
the daily "dialogue of life", the "dialogue of charity" and the
"dialogue of religious experiences" which has marked relations here
between Christians and Muslims.
The journey of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey is a part of this history,
and must be understood in the light of that history. It is a pastoral
journey, an ecumenical journey and a journey of dialogue with the
1. A pastoral journey
The Catholic Church in Turkey, with its various ritual expressions
(Latin, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Chaldean) is a small
minority in a prevalently Sunni Muslim world. Like the Apostle Peter
who, wrote a letter (1 Peter) from Rome to the Christian communities in
diaspora in present-day Turkey, his Successor now speaks to those same
communities, not only in words but also by his presence. Saint Peter
urged the Christians there "to account for the hope that is in you" (1
Pet 3:15). In our own times, which have seen the rise and spread of
forms of religious intolerance, Pope Benedict XVI, through the
preaching of the word and the celebration of the sacraments, comes to
confirm the Catholic community of Turkey in hope and in fidelity to
There are two celebrations of the Eucharist with the Catholic faithful
of Turkey. The first takes place at the national Marian shrine of
Meryen Aria Evi (the House of Mother Mary) in Ephesus, the city where
the Council of 431 proclaimed her divine maternity, but also where --
according to a pious tradition -- Mary dwelt for some time with Saint
John. The shrine is a point of encounter and prayer for Christians and
Muslims, who acknowledge in Mary the ever-virgin mother of Jesus, the
woman chosen by God for the good of humanity.
The second Eucharistic celebration takes place on 1 December in
Istanbul, in the Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit. Representatives
of the various Eastern Rite Catholic communities in Turkey will take
part in the Mass, which will be celebrated in the Latin rite; their
presence will be emphasized by a number of ritual expressions proper to
2. An ecumenical journey
From the very beginning of his Petrine ministry, Pope Benedict XVI has
made commitment to ecumenism a priority of his Pontificate. As he
stated on 20 April 2005, in a homily delivered in the Sistine Chapel
the day after his election, "the present Successor of Peter feels
personally responsible in this regard, and is prepared to do everything
in his power to advance the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the
footsteps of his predecessors, he is fully determined to encourage
every initiative that seems appropriate for promoting contacts and
understanding with the representatives of the different Churches and
The Pope's journey to Istanbul is to be seen against this background,
and finds a first significant moment in his meeting of prayer and
dialogue on 29 November with His Holiness Bartholomew I in the
Patriarchal Cathedral. At the end of the common prayer, the relics of
Saint Gregory the Theologian and Saint John Chrysostom will be
venerated. The heart of the visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch takes
place on 30 November, the liturgical memorial of the Apostle Andrew.
The Holy Father's participation in the Divine Liturgy is followed by a
brief common prayer and the unveiling of a stone commemorating the last
three Popes who visited the Patriarchate, and concludes with the
reading and signature of a Joint Declaration by His Holiness and
Patriarch Bartholomew I.
The ecumenical character of the journey of the Bishop of Rome to the
Sister Churches of Turkey is also emphasized by a visit that same day
to His Beatitude Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan at the Armenian Apostolic
The moment of personal encounter, common prayer and the unveiling of an
inscription in Armenian and Turkish commemorating the visits of Paul
VI, John Paul II and now Benedict XVI, is meant to signify the ties
linking the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church.
In the same spirit of fraternal communion in Christ, the Holy Father
later that afternoon receives, in the Papal Representation in Istanbul,
the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop and several heads of Protestant
3. A journey under the
banner of interreligious dialogue
It is significant that the Holy Father's first journey to a
predominantly Muslim country begins in the very land from which
Abraham, the common patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam,
undertook his journey of faith in God. It was from Harran, a village in
present-day Turkey, that he set out in a spirit of total dependence
upon God, trusting solely in the word that had been revealed to him.
The renewed memory of these common roots linking the three religions,
which the Holy Father wishes to evoke in his journey, is an invitation
to overcome the conflicts between Jews, Christians and Muslims that
have taken place over the centuries.
Here, we cannot fail to recall that during his nine year stay in
Turkey, the Apostolic Delegate Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, later Pope
John XXIII, came to recognize the urgent need for interreligious
dialogue, which found expression in the Declaration "Nostra Aetate" of
the Second Vatican Council, which he called as Pope.
Recently, Pope Benedict XVI referred to that Declaration as the Magna
Charta of the Catholic Church in her relations with the Islamic world
(cf. Address to the Diplomatic Corps, 25 September 2006).
The Holy Father's journey to Turkey -- in continuity with the thought
of Pope John Paul II -- is meant to reaffirm the Catholic Church's
conviction of the pressing need for interreligious dialogue. Turkey, an
officially secular state, which acts as a bridge between Europe and
Asia and is home to various religious traditions, is, as it were, a
balcony looking out on the Middle East, from which the values of
interreligious dialogue, tolerance, reciprocity and the secular
character of the State can be reaffirmed.
II. The liturgical book for
The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, as
is customary for papal journeys, has also prepared a liturgical book
for the Pope's Apostolic Journey to Turkey.
The volume, intended especially for the Holy Father himself and the
concelebrants, contains the texts and the rubrics of the celebrations
planned for the journey.
1. Celebrations with the
The Holy Father presides at three celebrations of the Eucharist:
-- Wednesday, 29 November, at the Shrine of Meryem Ana Evi in Ephesus;
-- Thursday, 30 November, at the Chapel of the Papal Representation in
-- Friday, 1 December, at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul.
The celebration at the Shrine of Meryem Ana Evi
The Eucharist is celebrated in an open place near the Shrine of Meryem
Ana Evi, and is marked by clear mariological and ecclesiological themes.
The Mass is that of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The euchological texts and
the biblical readings stress the mystery of Mary's maternity with
reference to her presence, with the Apostle John, beneath the Lord's
Cross. Jesus' words from the Cross: "Behold your son … Behold your
Mother" (Jn 19:26-27), have been seen by the Church as a special
testament, by which Christ the Lord "entrusted to the Virgin Mary all
his disciples to be her children", while at the same time entrusting
his Mother to the disciples.
In addition to Latin, the celebration uses Turkish, Italian, French,
English and German.
The celebration in the Chapel of the Papal Representation
The texts of the celebration are from the Feast of the Apostle Andrew.
The Mass is celebrated in Latin, while the readings are proclaimed in
The staff of the Papal Representation will take part in the celebration.
The celebration in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
The texts for the celebration in the Cathedral of Istanbul are drawn
from the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. The celebration has an
explicit pneumatological dimension, linked not only to the fact that
the Cathedral is dedicated to the Holy Spirit, but also to the
particular nature of the assembly taking part, which is made up of
various groups of different languages and rites, united in the same
faith, by the same love and by one Spirit.
The celebration, both in its use of these languages and certain ritual
sequences, is meant to express the diversity of the Catholic community.
The languages used are: Latin, Turkish, French, German, Syriac, Arabic
A number of ritual sequences emphasize the presence of the various
Eastern rites: Armenian, Chaldean, Syrian. The Armenians will chant the
entrance song and the Sanctus; the Chaldeans will chant the
responsorial Psalm and the offertory song (in Aramaic); and the Syrians
will chant the Gospel in accordance with their own ritual usage.
2. The ecumenical
are three ecumenical moments of prayer:
-- Wednesday, 29 November: Prayer service in the Patriarchal Church of
Saint George in the Phanar:
-- Thursday, 30 November: the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom
in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George in the Phanar;
-- Friday, 1 December: the Liturgy of the Word in the Armenian
Cathedral of Saint Mary.
The prayer service in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George in the
The evening prayer service is made up of a brief Akolouthia composed
for the occasion, using various elements drawn from the different hours
and feasts of the offices of the Byzantine Church.
As the Pope and the Patriarch enter the Church, seven antiphons are
sung, five of which are taken from the Psalter and from texts of the
Byzantine night service for Sunday. The first antiphon, drawn from
Psalm 88:16-17: "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of your
countenance; in your name shall they rejoice all the day, and in your
righteousness shall they be exalted", contains a reference to the theme
of light which links the service to the evening hour when it is
celebrated. The other Psalm antiphons are invitations to praise the
Lord in his glory. The third and the sixth antiphons, drawn from the
Sunday service, make explicit reference to the Holy Spirit bestowed
upon the Apostles: "The Holy Spirit is the fount of all wisdom, for
from him comes grace to the Apostles… The Holy Spirit is the source of
divine treasures, for from him comes wisdom, awe and understanding…".
The office opens with the initial blessing found in all the services of
the Byzantine tradition: "Blessed is our God, always, now and forever
and to the ages of ages".
Six troparia chosen for the celebration are then chanted: the first is
from Pentecost, the day when the Lord, by sending the Holy Spirit, made
fishers men of wisdom for the salvation of the world. The second and
third troparia are from the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Patrons of
the Church of Rome, and the feast of Saint Andrew, Patron of the Church
of Constantinople. The fourth troparion honors Saint Benedict. The
fifth is a "new" text, used first for the visit of His Holiness Pope
Paul VI to Istanbul in 1967: it sings the joy of the city of
Constantinople in receiving the one who presides over the Church of
Rome and sits in the Chair of Peter. The last of the troparia is the
kontakion chanted in the weeks prior to Christmas, which describes the
joy of the world at seeing the Virgin ready to give birth to the
Eternal Word of God.
The third part of the office contains six verses of the doxology
concluded by the Trisagion. There then follows a litany with seven
intercessions and a final prayer, recited by the Patriarch. There are
intercessions for the Pope, for the Patriarch, for the Churches and for
the whole world.
A biblical reading follows, taken from the prophet Zechariah (8:7-17).
The voice of the prophet calls the peoples from East and West and
assembles them in Jerusalem.
The recitation of the Our Father follows the reading, introduced by the
customary invitatory from the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom: "Make
us worthy, Master, with confidence and without condemnation, to dare
call you, the heavenly God, Father, and to say…". The chant of the Our
Father ends with the verse which ordinarily concludes the proclamation
of the Gospel: "Glory to you, O Lord, glory to you".
This is followed by the veneration of the relics of Saint Gregory the
Theologian and Saint John Chrysostom. A portion of the relics of these
two sainted Fathers of the Church of Constantinople, preserved in the
Basilica of Saint Peter, were given by Pope John Paul II, of venerable
memory, to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in the course of a
moving celebration in the Vatican Basilica on 27 November 2004. During
the veneration of the relics, the choir chants two troparia, those of
Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Gregory the Theologian.
The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom in the Patriarchal Church
of Saint George in the Phanar
The Byzantine Liturgy is common to all the Churches of the Byzantine
tradition, both Orthodox and Catholic: those of Greece, the Middle
East, Eastern Europe and southern Italy. The Byzantine Churches use
three anaphoras or Eucharistic prayers, also called simply "liturgies":
those of Saint John Chrysostom -- used almost daily; Saint Basil --
used ten times a year; and Saint James -- used only once a year. The
Byzantine Divine Liturgy, like that of all the Eastern Churches, is
celebrated facing East. The priest and all the faithful look to the
East, whence Christ will come again in glory. The priest intercedes
before the Lord for his people; he walks at the head of the people
towards the encounter with the Lord. At different moments the priest
turns to the people: for the proclamation of the Gospel, for the
dialogue preceding the anaphora, for the communion with the holy gifts,
and for all the blessings. These symbolize moments in which the Lord
himself comes forth to meet his people.
The Byzantine Divine Liturgy
has three parts: the preparation of the
priest and the gifts of bread and wine (prothesis); the liturgy of the
catechumens (liturgy of the word); and the liturgy of the faithful.
A. The preparation of the
gifts has two parts. First, the preparation
of the priest, which includes the prayers and his clothing with the
sacred vestments. In the prayers the priest asks the Lord in his mercy
to make him worthy to offer the sacrifice, to intercede for the people,
to call down the Holy Spirit.
There follows the preparation of the gifts of bread and wine. Although
the rite of preparation is performed by the priest alone, the whole
Church, in heaven and in earth, is symbolically present.
B. The liturgy of the
catechumens calls for the participation of the
catechumens, who are then dismissed after the proclamation of
The Divine Liturgy begins with an invocation of the Holy Trinity:
"Blessed be the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy
Spirit…". Three litanies follow, a longer one and two shorter ones,
which invoke the Lord's mercy upon the whole world and the entire
Church. Mention is made of the Church, her members and all those in
need. These litanies always include an invocation to the Mother of God,
who intercedes for everyone and for the Holy Church. After the second
litany the christological hymn, "Only-Begotten" is sung; this is an
ancient liturgical hymn that summarizes the principal dogmas of the
Christian faith: the Trinity, the Incarnation of the Word of God, the
divine maternity of Mary, the salvation that is bestowed on us by
Christ's passion, death and resurrection. There follows the "Small
Entrance". In a solemn procession, the priest and the deacon take the
Gospel from the altar, show it to the faithful and set it again on the
altar, in order to indicate the beginning of the proclamation of the
word of God: originally this was the entrance procession. Before the
readings the Trisagion is chanted: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy
Immortal…". Two readings are then proclaimed from the New Testament.
The Gospel is usually followed by a homily.
C. The Liturgy of the
Faithful. The third part of the Divine Liturgy is
the liturgy of the faithful, in which those who are baptized
participate fully. It begins with the "Great Entrance", the procession
with the bread and wine towards the altar. The choir sings the hymn:
"We who mystically represent the Cherubim…", another ancient liturgical
text in which the Church of heaven and earth is united in praise and
thanksgiving to God for his gifts. The priest incenses the altar, the
church, the gifts and the faithful, all of which are icons of Christ.
He then solemnly takes the paten and the chalice, and after asking the
Lord to remember all those who have been commemorated and the whole
Church, he sets them on the altar and covers them with the veil. The
priest then recites for himself and the whole Church the words of the
Good Thief from his cross: "Remember me, Lord, in your Kingdom…". The
gifts, a symbol of Christ, the Lamb who was slain, are then placed on
the altar, as if in the tomb from which, after the consecration or
sanctification, the life-giving Body of Christ will be given to each of
the faithful. After the entrance, litanies are sung, the sign of peace
is exchanged, and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is recited. There
follows the anaphora of Saint John Chrysostom, which has a structure
similar to that of the other anaphoras of the Eastern and Western
liturgies: an initial Trinitarian dialogue, Preface, Sanctus,
anamnesis, institution narrative, epiclesis, intercessions and
This is followed by the Our Father, the breaking of the bread and
communion. Before communion the priest pours some boiling water (called
the "zéon") into the chalice as a symbol of the outpouring and
presence of the Holy Spirit, as well as a sign of the life which comes
from communion in the living and life-giving Body and Blood of Christ
himself. Communion is received under both species.
The Divine Liturgy concludes with the final blessing.
The Liturgy of the Word in the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of Saint
The prayers and ritual sequences making up the prayer service have been
drawn from various elements of the Eucharistic celebration of the
Before the entrance procession in the Cathedral, in accordance with the
Armenian national tradition, the Holy Father is presented with bread,
salt and rose water as symbols of welcome and good wishes.
As His Holiness and His Beatitude enter the Cathedral, the choir
performs the chant Herasciapar Asdvadz ("O Wondrous God"), which
recounts the story of the conversion of the Armenian people to
Christianity through the efforts of Saint Gregory the Illuminator.
At the foot of the altar, a prayer is said. The Holy Father and His
Beatitude then take their places before the sacred altar, from which
the Gospel, carried in procession from the entrance of the Cathedral,
is solemnly proclaimed.
The prayer service in the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral expresses the
joy of the Armenian Apostolic Church at the visit of His Holiness Pope
The Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff is
most grateful to all those who assisted in the publication of the
Thanks is first due to the Bishops of the Turkish Episcopal Conference:
meeting in Istanbul on 18 September 2006, the members of the Conference
provided general guidelines regarding the texts, languages and ritual
expressions to be used.
A particular expression of gratitude is also due to the Ecumenical
Patriarchate of Constantinople for the fraternal cooperation shown in
the preparation of the texts in English and in Greek for the Prayer
Service of 29 November and the Divine Liturgy of 30 November.
Appreciation is also expressed to the authorities of the Armenian
Finally, a word of thanks to the members of the Liturgical Commissions
established for the occasion by the Bishops of Izmir and Istanbul.
The present volume will stand as testimony to the Pope's love for the
Turkish people, for the Sister Church of Constantinople, and in
particular for the Catholic community in Turkey. The celebration of the
Eucharist and the preaching of the word of God by the Bishop of Rome to
the communities of Ephesus and Istanbul are an encouragement and a gift
which the Successor of Peter makes to the Church in Turkey, so that it
will remain united in faith and love, in communion with its own Pastors
and with the Roman Pontiff, and remain open to ecumenical dialogue, to
interreligious dialogue and to preserving and promoting for all men,
peace, liberty, social justice and moral values" ("Nostra Aetate," 3).
+ Piero Marini
Benedict XVI's Itinerary for Turkey Trip
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the program of
Benedict XVI's fifth international apostolic journey, which will take
him to Turkey from Tuesday to Friday.
* * *
Tuesday, Nov. 28
9 a.m. Departure from Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport of
Rome/Fiumicino to Ankara
--- --- ---
1 p.m. Arrival at Esemboga International Airport
-- Visit to the Atatürk Mausoleum
-- Welcome ceremony and courtesy visit to the President of the Republic
-- Meeting with the Vice Prime Minister
-- Meeting with the President of Religious Affairs (Address of the Holy
-- Meeting with the Diplomatic Corps (Address of the Holy Father)
--- --- ---
Wednesday, Nov. 29
-- Holy Mass (Homily of the Holy Father)
-- Moment of prayer at the Patriarchal Church of St. George and private
meeting with H.H. Bartholomew I (Greeting of the Holy Father)
--- --- ---
Thursday, Nov. 30
-- Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Church of St. George (Address of
the Holy Father, and Joint Declaration)
-- Visit to the Museum of Saint Sofia
-- Visit to the Blue Mosque
-- Moment of prayer at the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral and meeting
with H.B. Patriarch Mesrob II (Greeting of the Holy Father)
-- Meeting with H.E. the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan
-- Meeting with the Grand Rabbi of Turkey
-- Meeting and dinner with the members of the Catholic episcopal
--- --- ---
Friday, Dec. 1
-- Holy Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (Homily of the Holy
-- Farewell ceremony at the Airport of Istanbul
-- 1:15 p.m. Departure from the Airport of Istanbul to Rome
--- --- ---
3:45 p.m. Arrival at the Airport of Ciampino (Rome)
BENEDICT XVI: "MY TRIP IS NOT
POLITICAL BUT PASTORAL"
VATICAN CITY, NOV 28, 2006 (VIS) - At 9.20 a.m. today, the Holy
Father departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport bound for Turkey, where
he landed three hours later at Ankara's Esemboga airport. Thus began
Benedict XVI's fifth apostolic trip outside Italy.
Speaking to the journalists accompanying him on his flight, the
Pope affirmed that his visit to Turkey "is not political but pastoral,"
and that its aim is "dialogue and the shared commitment to peace."
descended from his aircraft, the Holy Father was greeted
by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey, by the governor of
the local region, and by the military commander and the mayor of
Ankara, the capital of Turkey, a city of some five million inhabitants.
Also there to greet him was Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini O.F.M.
Cap., of Izmir, president of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of
The Holy Father then went to a room within the airport building
where he held a meeting with the prime minister.
Following this meeting, which lasted 20 minutes, the Pope
travelled by car to the Mausoleum of Ataturk some 45 kilometers from
the city. Built between 1944 and 1953, it holds the earthly remains of
Mustafa Kemal "Ataturk" (Father of the Turks), founder and first
president of the Turkish Republic (1923-1938). Within the building,
which resembles a Greek temple and is reached by a flight of steps, the
walls are covered in green marble and the ceiling decorated with gold
mosaics. The cenotaph to Ataturk is made from a single block of marble
weighing 40 tonnes.
At 3 p.m. local time (2 p.m. in Rome), Benedict XVI was received
by Ahmet Necdet Sezer, president of the Republic of Turkey, in the
presidential palace. Subsequently he met with one of the country's two
vice prime ministers in the "Guest House" of the presidential palace.
This afternoon, the Pope met with Ali Bardokoglu, Turkey's president
for religious affairs, in the "Diyanet," the headquarters of his
Turkey has 72 million inhabitants, of whom 99.8 percent
are Muslims. The remaining 0.20 percent is made up of Christians of
various rites (Greek-Orthodox, Syro-Orthodox, Armenian-Orthodox,
Protestants and Catholics) and Jews.
Catholics number some 32,000, about 0.04 percent of the
total population. The Catholic Episcopal Conference of Turkey is made
up of six bishops. Currently, there are 47 parishes, 68 priests, 98
male and female religious, four permanent deacons, five major
seminarians and 28 catechists.
Papal Address to Turkey's Religious
We "Belong to the Family of Those Who Believe in the One God"
ANKARA, Turkey, NOV. 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address
Benedict XVI delivered during his meeting today with Ali Bardakoglu,
chief of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directories.
meeting was attended by representatives of the Muslim community,
among whom were the grand muftis of Ankara and Istanbul, as well as
cardinals and bishops who are part of the papal entourage.
* * *
I am grateful
for the opportunity to visit this land, so rich in history and culture,
to admire its natural beauty, to witness for myself the creativity of
the Turkish people, and to appreciate your ancient culture and long
history, both civil and religious.
As soon as I arrived in Turkey, I was graciously received by the
President of the Republic and the Government Representative. It was for
me also a great pleasure to greet and meet his Excellency the Prime
Minister Erdogan at the airport. In greeting them, I was pleased to
express my profound esteem for all the people of this great country and
to pay my respects at the tomb of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa
I now have the joy of meeting you, the President of the Religious
Affairs Directorate. I offer you my sentiments of respect, in
recognition of your great responsibilities, and I extend my greetings
to all the religious leaders of Turkey, especially the Grand Muftis of
Ankara and Istanbul. In your person, Mr President, I greet all the
Muslims in Turkey with particular esteem and affectionate regard.
Your country is very dear to Christians: many of the earliest Church
communities were founded here and grew to maturity, inspired by the
preaching of the Apostles, particularly Saint Paul and Saint John. The
tradition has come down to us that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, lived at
Ephesus, in the home of the Apostle Saint John.
This noble land has also seen a remarkable flowering of Islamic
civilization in the most diverse fields, including its literature and
art, as well as its institutions.
There are so many Christian and Muslim monuments that bear witness to
Turkey's glorious past. You rightly take pride in these, preserving
them for the admiration of the ever increasing number of visitors who
I have set out upon my visit to Turkey with the same sentiments as
those expressed by my predecessor Blessed John XXIII, when he came here
as Archbishop Giuseppe Roncalli, to fulfill the office of Papal
Representative in Istanbul: "I am fond of the Turks, to whom the Lord
has sent me … I love the Turks, I appreciate the natural qualities of
these people who have their own place reserved in the march of
civilization" (Journal of a Soul, pp. 228, 233-4).
For my own part, I also wish to highlight the qualities of the Turkish
population. Here I make my own the words of my immediate predecessor,
Pope John Paul II of blessed memory, who said on the occasion of his
visit in 1979: "I wonder if it is not urgent, precisely today when
Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to
recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us, in order to
preserve and promote together, for the benefit of all men, 'peace,
liberty, social justice and moral values'" (Address to the Catholic
Community in Ankara, 28 November 1979).
These questions have continued to present themselves throughout the
intervening years; indeed, as I indicated at the very beginning of my
Pontificate, they impel us to carry forward our dialogue as a sincere
exchange between friends. When I had the joy of meeting members of
Muslim communities last year in Cologne, on the occasion of World Youth
Day, I reiterated the need to approach our interreligious and
intercultural dialogue with optimism and hope. It cannot be reduced to
an optional extra: on the contrary, it is "a vital necessity, on which
in large measure our future depends" (Address to representatives of
some Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005).
and Muslims, following their respective religions, point to
the truth of the sacred character and dignity of the person. This is
the basis of our mutual respect and esteem, this is the basis for
cooperation in the service of peace between nations and peoples, the
dearest wish of all believers and all people of good will.
For more than forty years, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council
has inspired and guided the approach taken by the Holy See and by local
Churches throughout the world to relations with the followers of other
religions. Following the Biblical tradition, the Council teaches that
the entire human race shares a common origin and a common destiny: God,
our Creator and the goal of our earthly pilgrimage. Christians and
Muslims belong to the family of those who believe in the one God and
who, according to their respective traditions, trace their ancestry to
Abraham (cf. Second Vatican Council, Declaration on the Relation of the
Church to Non-Christian Religions "Nostra Aetate" 1, 3). This human and
spiritual unity in our origins and our destiny impels us to seek a
common path as we play our part in the quest for fundamental values so
characteristic of the people of our time. As men and women of religion,
we are challenged by the widespread longing for justice, development,
solidarity, freedom, security, peace, defense 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
As an illustration of the fraternal respect with which Christians and
Muslims can work together, I would like to quote some words addressed
by Pope Gregory VII in 1076 to a Muslim prince in North Africa who had
acted with great benevolence toward the Christians under his
jurisdiction. Pope Gregory spoke of the particular charity that
Christians and Muslims owe to one another "because we believe in one
God, albeit in a different manner, and because we praise him and
worship him every day as the Creator and Ruler of the world."
Freedom of religion, institutionally guaranteed and effectively
respected in practice, both for individuals and communities,
constitutes for all believers the necessary condition for their loyal
contribution to the building up of society, in an attitude of authentic
service, especially toward the most vulnerable and the poor.
Mr President, I should like to finish by praising the Almighty and
merciful God for this happy occasion that brings us together in his
name. I pray that it may be a sign of our joint commitment to dialogue
between Christians and Muslims, and an encouragement to persevere along
that path, in respect and friendship. May we come to know one another
better, strengthening the bonds of affection between us in our common
wish to live together in harmony, peace and mutual trust. As believers,
we draw from our prayer the strength that is needed to overcome all
traces of prejudice and to bear joint witness to our firm faith in God.
May his blessing be ever upon us!
Pope's Address to Diplomatic
Corps in Ankara
"Religious Liberty Is a Fundamental Expression of Human Liberty"
ANKARA, Turkey, NOV. 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address
Benedict XVI delivered today when meeting the diplomatic corps
accredited in Ankara.
* * *
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I greet you with great joy, Ambassadors charged with the noble task of
representing your countries to the Republic of Turkey, and assembled
here in the Nunciature to meet the Successor of Peter. I am grateful to
your Vice-Dean, the Ambassador of Lebanon, for the kind words which he
has addressed to me. I am pleased to reconfirm the appreciation that
the Holy See has often expressed for the important duties that you
perform, which today take on an increasingly global dimension. In fact,
while your mission calls you above all to protect and promote the
legitimate interests of your respective nations, "the inevitable
interdependence which today increasingly unites peoples of the world,
invites diplomats to be, in a new and original way, promoters of
understanding, international security and peace between nations" (John
Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps, Mexico, 29 June 1979).
I want to begin by calling to mind the memorable visits of my two
predecessors in Turkey, Pope Paul VI in 1967 and Pope John Paul II in
1979. Nor could I fail to mention Pope Benedict XV, the untiring
promoter of peace during World War I, and Blessed John XXIII, the Pope
known as the "friend of Turks", who after his years as Apostolic
Delegate in Turkey and Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Vicariate
of Istanbul, left everyone with the memory of an attentive and loving
pastor, particularly eager to meet and come to know the Turkish people,
whose grateful guest he was! I am therefore happy to be a guest of
Turkey today, having come here as a friend and as an apostle of
dialogue and peace.
More than forty years ago, the Second Vatican Council wrote that "Peace
is more than the absence of war: it cannot be reduced to the
maintenance of a balance of power between opposing forces … but it is
the fruit of the right ordering of things with which the divine founder
has invested human society and which must be brought about by humanity
in its thirst for an ever more perfect reign of justice" (Gaudium et
Spes, 78). We have come to realize that true peace needs justice, to
correct the economic imbalances and political disturbances which always
give rise to tension and threaten every society. The recent
developments in terrorism and in certain regional conflicts have
highlighted the need to respect the decisions of international
institutions and also to support them, in particular by giving them
effective means to prevent conflicts and to maintain neutral zones
between belligerents, through the presence of peacekeeping forces.
All this, however, remains insufficient unless there is authentic
dialogue, that is to say fruitful debate between the parties concerned,
in order to arrive at lasting and acceptable political solutions,
respectful of persons and peoples. I am thinking most especially of the
disturbing conflict in the Middle East, which shows no sign of abating
and weighs heavily on the whole of international life; I am thinking of
the risk of peripheral conflicts multiplying and terrorist actions
spreading. I appreciate the efforts of numerous countries currently
engaged in rebuilding peace in Lebanon, Turkey among them.
In your presence, Ambassadors, I appeal once more to the vigilance of
the international community, that it not abandon its responsibilities,
but make every effort to promote dialogue among all parties involved,
which alone can guarantee respect for others, while safeguarding
legitimate interests and rejecting recourse to violence. As I wrote in
my first World Day of Peace Message, "the truth of peace calls upon
everyone to cultivate productive and sincere relationships; it
encourages them to seek out and to follow the paths of forgiveness and
reconciliation, to be transparent in their dealings with others, and to
be faithful to their word" (1 January 2006, 6).
Turkey has always served as a bridge between East and West, between
Asia and Europe, and as a crossroads of cultures and religions. During
the last century, she acquired the means to become a great modern
State, notably by the choice of a secular regime, with a clear
distinction between civil society and religion, each of which was to be
autonomous in its proper domain while respecting the sphere of the
other. The fact that the majority of the population of this country is
Muslim is a significant element in the life of society, which the State
cannot fail to take into account, yet the Turkish Constitution
recognizes every citizen's right to freedom of worship and freedom of
conscience. The civil authorities of every democratic country are duty
bound to guarantee the effective freedom of all believers and to permit
them to organize freely the life of their religious communities.
Naturally it is my hope that believers, whichever religious community
they belong to, will continue to benefit from these rights, since I am
certain that religious liberty is a fundamental expression of human
liberty and that the active presence of religions in society is a
source of progress and enrichment for all. This 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.
In this regard, I appreciate the work of the Catholic community in
Turkey, small in number but deeply committed to contributing all it can
to the country's development, notably by educating the young, and by
building peace and harmony among all citizens.
As I have recently observed, "we are in great need of an authentic
dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting
us, in a spirit of fruitful co-operation, to overcome all the tensions
together" (Address to the Ambassadors of Countries with a Muslim
Majority, Castel Gandolfo, 25 September 2006). This dialogue must
enable different religions to come to know one another better and to
respect one another, in order to work for the fulfillment of man's
noblest aspirations, in search of God and in search of happiness.
For my part, on the occasion of my visit to Turkey, I wish to reiterate
my great esteem for Muslims, encouraging them to continue to work
together, in mutual respect, to promote the dignity of every human
being and the growth of a society where personal freedom and care for
others provide peace and serenity for all. In this way, religions will
be able to play their part in responding to the numerous challenges
currently facing our societies. 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.
The Church, as you know, has received a spiritual mission from her
Founder and therefore she has no intention of intervening directly in
political or economic life. However, by virtue of her mission and her
long experience of the history of societies and cultures, she wishes to
make her voice heard in international debate, so that man's fundamental
dignity, especially that of the weakest, may always be honored. Given
the recent development of the phenomenon of globalized communications,
the Holy See looks to the international community to give a clearer
lead by establishing rules for better control of economic development,
regulating markets, and fostering regional accords between countries. I
have no doubt, Ladies and Gentlemen, that in your mission as diplomats
you are eager to harmonize the particular interests of your country
with the need to maintain good relations with other countries, and that
in this way you can contribute significantly to the service of all.
The voice of the Church on the diplomatic scene is always characterized
by the Gospel commitment to serve the cause of humanity, and I would be
failing in this fundamental obligation if I did not remind you of the
need always to place human dignity at the very heart of our concerns.
The world is experiencing an extraordinary development of science and
technology, with almost immediate consequences for medicine,
agriculture and food production, but also for the communication of
knowledge; this process must not lack direction or a human point of
reference, when it relates to birth, education, manner of life or work,
of old age, or death. It is necessary to re-position modern progress
within the continuity of our human history and thus to guide it
according to the plan written into our nature for the growth of
humanity -- a plan expressed by the words of the book of Genesis as
follows: "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it" (1:28).
Finally, as my thoughts turn to the first Christian communities that
sprang up in this land, and especially to the Apostle Paul who
established several of them himself, allow me to quote from his Letter
to the Galatians: "You were called to freedom, brethren; only do not
use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be
servants of one another" (5:13). I sincerely hope that the good
relations between nations, which it is your task to serve, may also
contribute increasingly to the genuine growth of humanity, created in
the image of God. Such a noble goal requires the contribution of all.
For this reason the Catholic Church intends to renew its co-operation
with the Orthodox Church and I hope that my forthcoming meeting with
Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Phanar will effectively serve this
objective. As the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council emphasized, the
Church seeks to cooperate with believers and leaders of all religions,
and especially with Muslims, in order that together they may "preserve
and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values" (Nostra
Aetate, 3). I hope, from this viewpoint, that my journey to Turkey will
bring abundant fruits.
Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, upon you, upon your families and
upon all your co-workers, I invoke with all my heart the Blessings of
The Demands of
Dialogue With Muslims
Interview With Catholic Theologian Ilaria Morali
NOV. 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has helped to open a new kind
of dialogue with Islam, says theologian Ilaria Morali.
Morali, a professor of dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian
University, takes part annually in meetings of interreligious dialogue
In this interview with ZENIT, Morali comments on the points of exchange
on the faith and interreligious dialogue with Muslim intellectuals.
Q: You have just returned from Turkey. In the intellectual world in
which you moved, what was the atmosphere in regard to the Pope's visit?
Morali: The news these days certainly shows that there are objective
difficulties, especially among ordinary people and the most alienated
Without a doubt, this climate contributed to the wave of media
propaganda following the Regensburg address. The latter in turn
triggered an emotional outburst, before the meaning of the Holy
Father's words was clarified and before there was time to reread the
And this emotional outburst has also touched intellectual environments,
which perhaps are not totally used to the new style of the papacy
inaugurated by Benedict XVI.
In my talks, however, I have been able to verify that, beyond an
apparent mistrust, there is great interest in this Pope. He has sparked
a positive leap of quality in the Muslim-Christian dialogue, showing
that confrontation, if it is to be true, must not fear to also touch
upon controversial or uncomfortable points for both sides.
Q: Has Benedict XVI instituted a new way of dialoguing with Islam?
Morali: From what I
have been able to gather in Istanbul, talking with
some Muslim colleagues, I realize that they never imagined that there
could be another way of dialoguing other than that of John Paul II.
They thought it was the only possible way for communication, while
[instead] it was necessary to take a step for a further maturing of the
And this step, as is the case of every novelty, has entailed a
re-establishment of the balances and the creation of new premises to
move the dialogue from gestures to intellectual confrontation, lively
and difficult, addressing the problems and involving the world of
moderate intellectuals more directly, giving them an extraordinary
opportunity to come out and participate with greater courage in the
During our meeting, a Muslim colleague said that "dialogue" has become
an expression that has suffered an inflation, as it is used without
coming to the point.
In fact, there has been a total loss of meaning of what the Catholic
Church wished to say and do when Paul VI spoke about it for the first
time in "Ecclesiam Suam."
And I think my colleague's affirmation is true. Many Catholics have
lost the exact meaning that the magisterium attributes to dialogue and
have reduced its value, thinking -- and also making Muslims think --
that dialogue should be expressed essentially with gestures of
friendship and solidarity, avoiding a serene but difficult
confrontation including on painful points.
Q: But dialogue cannot be reduced to theological topics and "painful"
points, as you say.
Morali: Dialogue cannot be improvised; moreover, it is a mistake to
conceive it in the abstract, as is often thought, as "dialogue between
Therefore, I am convinced that, and I have said it to some Muslim
friends of Istanbul, thanks to this papal visit not only will they know
a new face of the papacy, but Benedict XVI's unheard-of focus will lead
them to be far more involved in the exchange and reflection than
Q: What is your perception of the situation of Christians in Turkey?
Morali: I certainly perceived great suffering, in part as a legacy of
discriminations and persecutions suffered in the not-too-distant past,
and in part due to the situation of dispersion and fragmentation of the
Christian communities themselves.
The murder of Father Andrea Santoro [last Feb. 5] is certainly the sign
that objective dangers exist to which the most committed people are
Turkish Islam, as some explained to me, is not only that of the big
cities like Istanbul, which looks increasingly like a Western
metropolis, but also that of isolated fields, small villages and
Too often we make simplifications thinking that Islam is a unitary
event, but as my Turkish friends explain, in that country Islam is made
up of many realities.
On the other hand, in fact, dialogue such as those in Istanbul that are
held under the sponsorship of the Marmara University of Istanbul,
reflect[s] a change of climate.
I will give examples to confirm what I am saying: Last year I went to
visit the Islamic Studies Center in Istanbul, especially the library.
Well, my Turkish friends showed me with justified pride the sector they
have dedicated to Christian books. They have established it by design
to give Muslim students the possibility to go directly to the Christian
sources to learn about our tradition of faith and our history.
I have examined the shelves and have seen how much care they took in
finding these books. They told me, however, how difficult it was to
find truly reliable books in Catholic publishing houses that give an
objective view of the doctrine and of Christian history.
I told them they were right, seeing the lack of quality of some
publications produced by Catholic publishing houses, at times more
inclined to publish books of relativist theology than of healthy
I know that a Muslim colleague has translated into Turkish the
encyclical "Fides et Ratio" and will see to its publication. This
initiative will not only benefit students of comparative theology but
also Christians themselves who certainly do not have the means and
strength to undertake such initiatives.
Q: How do you live the rapprochement with Turkish Muslims?
Morali: As dogmatic theologian I have to say to Christians, who might
wish to venture in interreligious dialogue, that an imperative for an
exchange is to avoid any improvisation.
I am not a professor specialized in Islam and my interlocutors know it,
so that in my expositions I present Catholic dogma simply, leaving to
Father Maurice Bormanns the implications for Islam.
My communications are appreciated because I speak with extreme
frankness of my faith without expecting my interlocutors to be in
agreement with me.
The meetings in Istanbul demand from each person a long preparation.
For my part, I work dialoguing much with Father Bormanns to be able to
elaborate my interventions from a perspective that might turn out to be
of greater interest to my interlocutors. Often my conferences are the
basis for a dialogue that Father Bormanns, with his great competence,
carries out establishing comparisons and parallelisms or, for example,
In this way, the Catholic dogmatic and the Catholic expert in Islam
become actors in a very profound dialogue.
So I have been able to verify, among other things, the superficiality
of some focuses seen in the Catholic world, when there is talk of
dialogue between religions, as if one religion was the same as another,
or when "initiatives of dialogue" are organized without adequate
preparation, either on the subject of the Catholic faith or of the
tradition of our interlocutor.
Q: Why are you so critical of some forms of interreligious dialogue?
Morali: I recall that last year, at the moment of exchange with the
assembly, a person in the audience asked me if I could at least accept
that Mohammed was the last and greatest of the prophets.
Addressing an audience made up of Muslims, and before answering, I
asked him in turn: "If I posed a similar question on Jesus Christ, for
example, asking a Muslim professor to admit at least that Jesus Christ
is as great as Mohammed, would you think he is a good Muslim if, to
please me, he said I was right? You would prefer, I believe, that he be
consistent with his faith even at the cost of displeasing me with his
answer. I think that you want an answer from me as a Catholic woman and
would not appreciate an answer of compromise to please you. You would
not consider me a good Catholic Christian. That is why I answer you as
any Catholic should answer: with sincerity and serenity."
I remember that his reasoning touched deep chords in my Muslim
colleagues who expressed great appreciation for the sincerity and
transparency I showed, and also for my courage in giving them an answer
which was certainly not totally acceptable for a Muslim.
A professor said to me: "Dr. Morali, we want to dialogue with true
Catholics, not with mediocre Catholics, though this is certainly rather
more difficult. Continue like this, please."
Where Mary Is Believed to Have
Structure Near Ephesus Was Ancient Pilgrimage Site
Turkey, NOV. 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI celebrated Mass, which
was attended by part of the small Turkish Catholic community, at the
house where, according to tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary once lived.
From the first centuries, numerous Christian authors from the East and
West mentioned John's and the Blessed Virgin's stay in this city, in
which were located the headquarters of the first of the seven Churches
mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
But, how was it determined that this was the house of Jesus' Mother?
The finding took place at the end of the 19th century.
On July 29, 1891, two Vincentian priests, French Fathers Henry Jung and
Eugène Poulin, gave in to the insistent requests of Sister Marie
de Mandat-Grancey, superior of the Daughters of Charity who worked in
the French hospital of Izmir. The priests set out to look for Mary's
house, having as their compass the vision of German mystic Blessed Anna
Katharina Emmerick (1774-1824).
From her bed in a village of Westphalia, where she spent the last 12
years of her life, the mystic received visions of the life of Jesus and
Mary. These visions were recorded and published after her death by
German writer Clemens Brentano.
The two priests, former soldiers of the French army, climbed the Bulbul
Dag ("nightingale's hill" in Turkish), which rises above the Ephesus
After much effort, they found the ruins of a house near a fountain, a
few kilometers from Ephesus. The house seemed to have been used as a
chapel -- which fit perfectly with Emmerick's description.
It was the "Panaya uc Kapoulou Monastiri," as the Orthodox Christians
of the area called it -- the "Monastery of the Three Doors of Panaya,
the All Holy," given the three arches of the facade. These Greek
Christians used to go to the site on pilgrimage during the octave of
the feast of Mary's Dormition, Aug. 15.
The Vincentian priests did some research among the residents of the
area and confirmed the existence of a centuries-old devotion which
recognized in the ruined chapel the place of the last residence of
"Meryem Anas," Mother Mary.
Archaeological studies carried out in 1898 and 1899 brought to light
among the ruins the remains of a first-century house, as well as the
ruins of a small village that was established around the house since
the seventh century.
Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) was positive about these findings and
re-established in the Ordo Romanus a note that on the feast of the
Assumption mentioned Ephesus as the probable place of the Blessed
The Meryem Ana shrine, in front of which Benedict XVI celebrated Mass
today, was restored in the 1950s. Pastoral care of the site has been
entrusted to the Capuchin friars.
Mary's House was visited by Pope Paul VI in 1967 and by Pope John Paul
II in 1979.
It is the object of Muslim pilgrimages too, as Mary is presented in the
Koran as "the only woman who has not been touched by the devil."
Papal Homily at Marian
House in Ephesus
"Christ Is Grace; Christ Is Peace"
Turkey, NOV. 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the homily Benedict XVI
delivered today during the Mass celebrated in front of the Meryem Ana
Evi (the House of Mother Mary) shrine near Ephesus.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Eucharistic celebration we praise the Lord for Mary's divine
motherhood, a mystery solemnly confessed and proclaimed in Ephesus at
the Ecumenical Council of 431. To this place, so dear to the Christian
community, my venerable predecessors the Servants of God Paul VI and
John Paul II came as pilgrims; the latter visited this Shrine on 30
November 1979, just over a year after the beginning of his
Another of my Predecessors was in this country not as Pope, but as the
Papal Representative, from January 1935 to December 1944, Blessed John
XXIII, Angelo Roncalli, whose memory still enkindles great devotion and
affection. He very much esteemed and admired the Turkish people. Here I
would like to quote an entry in his Journal of a Soul: "I love the
Turks; I appreciate the natural qualities of these people who have
their own place reserved in the march of civilization" (pp. 233-4). He
also left to the Church and the world the legacy of his Christian
optimism, rooted in deep faith and constant union with God. In that
same spirit, I turn to this nation and, in a special way, to the
"little flock" of Christ living in its midst, in order to offer a word
of encouragement and to manifest the affection of the whole Church.
With great love I greet all of you here present, the faithful of Izmir,
Mersin, Iskenderun and Antakia, and others from different parts of the
world, as well as those who could not take part in this celebration but
are spiritually united with us. I greet in particular Archbishop
Ruggero Franceschini of Izmir, Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini,
Archbishop emeritus of Izmir, Bishop Luigi Padovese, the priests and
the religious. Thank you for your presence, your witness and your
service to the Church in this blessed land where, at its very
beginnings, the Christian community experienced great growth, a fact
reflected in the numerous pilgrimages made to Turkey to this day.
Mother of God -- Mother of the Church
We have listened to a passage from Saint John's Gospel which invites us
to contemplate the moment of the Redemption when Mary, united to her
Son in the offering of his sacrifice, extended her motherhood to all
men and women, and in particular to the disciples of Jesus. A
privileged witness to that event was the author of the Fourth Gospel,
John, the only one of the Apostles to remain at Golgotha with the
Mother of Jesus and the other women. Mary's motherhood, which began
with her fiat in Nazareth, is fulfilled at the foot of the Cross.
Although it is true -- as Saint Anselm says -- that "from the moment of
her fiat Mary began to carry all of us in her womb", the maternal
vocation and mission of the Virgin towards those who believe in Christ
actually began when Jesus said to her: "Woman, behold your son!" (Jn
19:26). 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.
Mother of God -- Mother of Unity
The first reading presented what could be called the "Gospel" of the
Apostle of the Gentiles: all men and women, including the pagans, are
called in Christ to share fully in the mystery of salvation. The text
also contains the expression that I have chosen as the motto for my
Apostolic Journey: "He, Christ, is our peace" (Eph 2:14). Inspired by
the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us that Jesus Christ has not only brought
but that he is our peace. And he justifies this statement by
referring to the mystery of the Cross: by shedding "his blood", by
offering in sacrifice "his flesh", Jesus destroyed hostility "in
himself" and created "in himself one new man in place of the two" (Eph
2:14-16). The Apostle explains how, in a truly unforeseen way,
messianic peace has now come about in Christ's own person and his
saving mystery. He explains it by writing, during his imprisonment, to
the Christian community which lived here, in Ephesus: "to the saints
who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph 1:1), as he
says in the salutation of the Letter. The Apostle wishes them "grace
and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:2).
Grace is the power that transforms man and the world; peace is the
mature fruit of this transformation. Christ is grace; Christ is peace.
Paul knows that he has been sent to proclaim a "mystery", a divine plan
that only in the fullness of time has been carried out and revealed in
Christ: namely, that "the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of
the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the
Gospel" (Eph 3:6). This mystery is accomplished, in salvation history,
in the Church, the new People in which, now that the old dividing wall
has been broken down, Jews and pagans find themselves united. Like
Christ himself, the Church is not only the instrument of unity, but
also its efficacious sign. And the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ
and of the Church, is the Mother of that mystery of unity which Christ
and the Church inseparably signify and build up, in the world and
Let us implore peace for Jerusalem and the whole world
The Apostle of the Gentiles says that Christ "has made us both one"
(Eph 2:14): these words properly refer to the relationship between Jews
and Gentiles in the mystery of eternal salvation, yet they can also
extend, by analogy, to the relationship between the peoples and
civilizations present in the world. Christ "came to proclaim peace"
(Eph 2:17), not only between Jews and non-Jews, but between all
nations, since all have their origin in the same God, the one Creator
and Lord of the universe. Strengthened by God's word, from here in
Ephesus, a city blessed by the presence of Mary Most Holy -- who we
know is loved and venerated also by Muslims -- let us lift up to the
Lord a special prayer for peace between peoples. From this edge of the
Anatolian peninsula, a natural bridge between continents, let us
implore peace and reconciliation, above all for those dwelling in the
Land called "Holy" and considered as such by Christians, Jews and
Muslims alike: it is the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, destined to
be the home of a people that would become a blessing for all the
nations (cf. Gen 12:1-3). Peace for all of humanity! May Isaiah's
prophecy soon be fulfilled: "They shall beat their swords into
ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not
lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more"
(Is 2:4). We all need this universal peace; and the Church is called to
be not only the prophetic herald, but even more, the "sign and
instrument" of this peace. Against the backdrop of universal peace, the
yearning for full communion and concord between all Christians becomes
even more profound and intense. Present at today's celebration are
Catholic faithful of various rites, and this is a reason for joyful
praise of God. These rites, when they converge in unity and common
witness, are an expression of that marvelous variety which adorns the
Bride of Christ. In this regard, the unity of the Ordinaries of the
Episcopal Conference in fellowship and the sharing of pastoral efforts
must set an example.
In today's liturgy we have repeated, as the refrain of the Responsorial
Psalm, the song of praise proclaimed by the Virgin of Nazareth on
meeting her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:39). Our hearts too
were consoled by the words of the Psalmist: "steadfast love and
faithfulness will meet, righteousness and peace will kiss" (Ps 85:10).
Dear brothers and sisters, in this visit I have wanted to convey my
personal love and spiritual closeness, together with that of the
universal Church, to the Christian community here in Turkey, a small
minority which faces many challenges and difficulties daily. With firm
trust let us sing, together with Mary, a magnificat of praise and
thanksgiving to God who has looked with favor upon the lowliness of his
servant (cf. Lk 1:48). Let us sing joyfully, even when we are tested by
difficulties and dangers, as we have learned from the fine witness
given by the Roman priest Don Andrea Santoro, whom I am pleased to
recall in this celebration. Mary teaches us that the source of our joy
and our one sure support is Christ, and she repeats his words: "Do not
be afraid" (Mk 6:50), "I am with you" (Mt 28:20). Mary, Mother of the
Church, accompany us always on our way! Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray
for us! "Aziz Meryem Mesih'in Annesi bizim için Dua et." Amen.
Bartholomew I's Article: "That They May All
Written on the Occasion of Benedict XVI's Journey to Turkey
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of an
article, signed by Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of
Constantinople, which appeared on the front page of the Nov. 27-28
Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano.
The Orthodox patriarch's article was entitled "That They May All Be
* * *
With great joy, we welcome the visit of our beloved brother in Christ,
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, to our country and to the See of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate. Given that this is the first official visit of
His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Church of Constantinople since his
election, it is a historic moment, as were the visits of his
predecessors, of venerated memory, Pope Paul VI in 1967 and Pope John
Paul II in 1979.
It is also a pilgrimage to the Holy Places where the Apostle Andrew
took the Holy Gospel and performed many signs, and where thousands of
martyrs and confessors gave witness of their faith. Here in this city
and in this ancient and historical land, Christianity has been alive
for 2,000 years and has survived despite all the difficulties,
challenges and divisions. Indeed, it is a joy and at the same time a
blessing that the two leaders of the Church should meet as Christian
brothers and servants of our Lord, as the Psalm states: "Behold, how
good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (Psalm 133:1).
We very much appreciate this visit of His Holiness Benedict XVI to our
Church, which is an expression of the existing good relations between
our two ancient Churches. It also shows our profound conviction and
willingness to intensify our theological dialogue of love, truth and
mutual respect through the Joint International Theological Commission.
With honor and dignity, the Ecumenical Patriarchate bears the burden of
the People of God. We respond to the challenges of our time and to the
appeals of many people who live in need, poverty, danger and injustice.
Moreover, we are committed to opposing all forms of violence, for the
peaceful coexistence of all religious communities in our country.
Having lived for centuries in a predominantly Muslim environment, our
Holy Church has always promoted dialogue between peoples and encouraged
them to live together in peace, in harmony and in reconciliation,
disregarding differences of race, religion and culture.
We consider this visit an opportunity to manifest our fraternal love to
His Holiness Benedict XVI and to renew our commitment to continue on
our common spiritual path toward the unity of the Church. Hoping with
all our heart that His Holiness' visit will be beautiful and pleasant,
we express to him our cordial welcome to our country, to our city and
to our Church, and we pray fervently that the One and Triune God will
continue to guide us in all that we do to fulfill his commandment:
"That they may all be one" (John 17:21).
Pope's Address to Patriarch Bartholomew I
"Great Joy to Be Among You, My Brothers in Christ"
ISTANBUL, Turkey, NOV. 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address
Benedict XVI delivered today to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
during their prayer together in the Patriarchal Church of St. George in
the Phanar, Istanbul.
* * *
"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity" (Ps
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
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
I greet you in the love of Christ. May the Lord be always with you.
Welcome Address to Pope
"We Are Equally Accountable for the Steps Along the Journey"
NOV. 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the welcome
address delivered by His Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I,
to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, after the prayer service at the
Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George.
* * *
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
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
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
"Blessed is the Name of the Lord now and forevermore."
Declaration by Pope
and Orthodox Patriarch
"We Must Strengthen Our Cooperation"
NOV. 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the
Common Declaration signed today by Benedict XVI and Ecumenical
Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, at the end of the Divine
Liturgy in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George at the Phanar,
* * *
Common Declaration by Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I
"This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in
it!" (Ps 117:24)
This fraternal encounter which brings us together, Pope Benedict XVI of
Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, is God's work, and in a
certain sense his gift. We give thanks to the Author of all that is
good, who allows us once again, in prayer and in dialogue, to express
the joy we feel as brothers and to renew our commitment to move towards
full communion. This commitment comes from the Lord's will and from our
responsibility as Pastors in the Church of Christ. May our meeting be a
sign and an encouragement to us to share the same sentiments and the
same attitudes of fraternity, cooperation and communion in charity and
truth. The Holy Spirit will help us to prepare the great day of the
re-establishment of full unity, whenever and however God wills it. Then
we shall truly be able to rejoice and be glad.
1. We have recalled with thankfulness the meetings of our venerable
predecessors, blessed by the Lord, who showed the world the urgent need
for unity and traced sure paths for attaining it, through dialogue,
prayer and the daily life of the Church. Pope Paul VI and Patriarch
Athenagoras I went as pilgrims to Jerusalem, to the very place where
Jesus Christ died and rose again for the salvation of the world, and
they also met again, here in the Phanar and in Rome. They left us a
common declaration which retains all its value; it emphasizes that true
dialogue in charity must sustain and inspire all relations between
individuals and between Churches, that it "must be rooted in a total
fidelity to the one Lord Jesus Christ and in mutual respect for their
own traditions" ("Tomos Agapis," 195). Nor have we forgotten the
reciprocal visits of His Holiness Pope John Paul II and His Holiness
Dimitrios I. It was during the visit of Pope John Paul II, his first
ecumenical visit, that the creation of the Mixed Commission for
theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox
Church was announced. This has brought together our Churches in the
declared aim of re-establishing full communion.
As far as relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of
Constantinople are concerned, we cannot fail to recall the solemn
ecclesial act effacing the memory of the ancient anathemas which for
centuries had a negative effect on our Churches. We have not yet drawn
from this act all the positive consequences which can flow from it in
our progress towards full unity, to which the mixed Commission is
called to make an important contribution. We exhort our faithful to
take an active part in this process, through prayer and through
2. At the time of the plenary session of the mixed Commission for
theological dialogue, which was recently held in Belgrade through the
generous hospitality of the Serbian Orthodox Church, we expressed our
profound joy at the resumption of the theological dialogue. This had
been interrupted for several years because of various difficulties, but
now the Commission was able to work afresh in a spirit of friendship
and cooperation. In treating the topic "Conciliarity and Authority in
the Church" at local, regional and universal levels, the Commission
undertook a phase of study on the ecclesiological and canonical
consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church. This will permit
us to address some of the principal questions that are still
unresolved. We are committed to offer unceasing support, as in the
past, to the work entrusted to this Commission and we accompany its
members with our prayers.
3. As Pastors, we have first of all reflected on the mission to
proclaim the Gospel in today's world. This mission, "Go, make disciples
of all nations" (Mt 28:19), is today more timely and necessary than
ever, even in traditionally Christian countries. Moreover, we cannot
ignore the increase of secularization, relativism, even nihilism,
especially in the Western world. All this calls for a renewed and
powerful proclamation of the Gospel, adapted to the cultures of our
time. Our traditions represent for us a patrimony which must be
continually shared, proposed, and interpreted anew. This is why we must
strengthen our cooperation and our common witness before the world.
4. We have viewed positively the process that has led to the formation
of the European Union. Those engaged in this great project should not
fail to take into consideration all aspects affecting the inalienable
rights of the human person, especially religious freedom, a witness and
guarantor of respect for all other freedoms. In every step towards
unification, minorities must be protected, with their cultural
traditions and the distinguishing features of their religion. In
Europe, while remaining open to other religions and to their cultural
contributions, we must unite our efforts to preserve Christian roots,
traditions and values, to ensure respect for history, and thus to
contribute to the European culture of the future and to the quality of
human relations at every level. In this context, how could we not evoke
the very ancient witnesses and the illustrious Christian heritage of
the land in which our meeting is taking place, beginning with what the
Acts of the Apostles tells us concerning the figure of Saint Paul,
Apostle of the Gentiles? In this land, the Gospel message and the
ancient cultural tradition met. This link, which has contributed so
much to the Christian heritage that we share, remains timely and will
bear more fruit in the future for evangelization and for our unity.
5. Our concern extends to those parts of today's world where Christians
live and to the difficulties they have to face, particularly poverty,
wars and terrorism, but equally to various forms of exploitation of the
poor, of migrants, women and children. We are called to work together
to promote respect for the rights of every human being, created in the
image and likeness of God, and to foster economic, social and cultural
development. Our theological and ethical traditions can offer a solid
basis for a united approach in preaching and action. Above all, we wish
to affirm that killing innocent people in God's name is an offence
against him and against human dignity. We must all commit ourselves to
the renewed service of humanity and the defense of human life, every
We take profoundly to heart the cause of peace in the Middle East,
where our Lord lived, suffered, died and rose again, and where a great
multitude of our Christian brethren have lived for centuries. We
fervently hope that peace will be re-established in that region, that
respectful coexistence will be strengthened between the different
peoples that live there, between the Churches and between the different
religions found there. To this end, we encourage the establishment of
closer relationships between Christians, and of an authentic and honest
interreligious dialogue, with a view to combating every form of
violence and discrimination.
6. At present, in the face of the great threats to the natural
environment, we want to express our concern at the negative
consequences for humanity and for the whole of creation which can
result from economic and technological progress that does not know its
limits. As religious leaders, we consider it one of our duties to
encourage and to support all efforts made to protect God's creation,
and to bequeath to future generations a world in which they will be
able to live.
7. Finally, our thoughts turn towards all of you, the faithful of our
two Churches throughout the world, Bishops, priests, deacons, men and
women religious, lay men and women engaged in ecclesial service, and
all the baptized. In Christ we greet other Christians, assuring them of
our prayers and our openness to dialogue and cooperation. In the words
of the Apostle of the Gentiles, we greet all of you: "Grace to you and
peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 1:2).
At the Phanar, 30 November 2006
Benedict XVI Bartholomew I
Pope's Address at the End of
"We Are Called … to Renew Europe's Awareness of Its Christian Roots"
Turkey, NOV. 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address
Benedict XVI delivered today at the end of the Divine Liturgy on the
feast of St. Andrew, celebrated by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I
of Constantinople in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George at the
* * *
This Divine Liturgy celebrated on the Feast of Saint Andrew the
Apostle, Patron Saint of the Church of Constantinople, brings us back
to the early Church, to the age of the Apostles. The Gospels of Mark
and Matthew relate how Jesus called the two brothers, Simon, whom Jesus
calls Cephas or Peter, and Andrew: "Follow me, and I will make you
fishers of men" (Mt 4:19, Mk 1:17). The Fourth Gospel also presents
Andrew as the first to be called, "ho protoklitos", as he is known in
the Byzantine tradition. It is Andrew who then brings his brother Simon
to Jesus (cf. Jn 1:40f.).
Today, in this Patriarchal Church of Saint George, we are able to
experience once again the communion and call of the two brothers, Simon
Peter and Andrew, in the meeting of the Successor of Peter and his
Brother in the episcopal ministry, the head of this Church
traditionally founded by the Apostle Andrew. Our fraternal encounter
highlights the special relationship uniting the Churches of Rome and
Constantinople as Sister Churches.
With heartfelt joy we thank God for granting new vitality to the
relationship that has developed since the memorable meeting in
Jerusalem in December 1964 between our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and
Patriarch Athenagoras. Their exchange of letters, published in the
volume entitled "Tomos Agapis," testifies to the depth of the bonds
that grew between them, bonds mirrored in the relationship between the
Sister Churches of Rome and Constantinople.
On 7 December 1965, the eve of the final session of the Second Vatican
Council, our venerable predecessors took a unique and unforgettable
step in the Patriarchal Church of Saint George and the Basilica of
Saint Peter in the Vatican respectively: they removed from the memory
of the Church the tragic excommunications of 1054. In this way they
confirmed a decisive shift in our relationship. Since then, many other
important steps have been taken along the path of mutual rapprochement.
I recall in particular the visit of my predecessor, Pope John Paul II,
to Constantinople in 1979, and the visits to Rome of the Ecumenical
Patriarch Bartholomew I.
In that same spirit, my presence here today is meant to renew our
commitment to advancing along the road towards the re-establishment --
by God's grace -- of full communion between the Church of Rome and the
Church of Constantinople. I can assure you that the Catholic Church is
willing to do everything possible to overcome obstacles and to seek,
together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, ever more effective
means of pastoral cooperation to this end.
The two brothers, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew, were fishermen whom
Jesus called to become fishers of men. The Risen Lord, before his
Ascension, sent them out together with the other Apostles with the
mission of making all nations his disciples, baptizing them and
proclaiming his teachings (cf. Mt 28:19ff.; Lk 24:47; Acts 1:8).
This charge left us by the holy brothers Peter and Andrew is far from
finished. On the contrary, today it is even more urgent and necessary.
For it looks not only to those cultures which have been touched only
marginally by the Gospel message, but also to long-established European
cultures deeply grounded in the Christian tradition. The process of
secularization has weakened the hold of that tradition; indeed, it is
being called into question, and even rejected. In the face of this
reality, we are called, together with all other Christian communities,
to renew Europe's awareness of its Christian roots, traditions and
values, giving them new vitality.
Our efforts to build closer ties between the Catholic Church and the
Orthodox Churches are a part of this missionary task. The divisions
which exist among Christians are a scandal to the world and an obstacle
to the proclamation of the Gospel. On the eve of his passion and death,
the Lord, surrounded by his disciples, prayed fervently that all may be
one, so that the world may believe (cf. Jn 17:21). It is only through
brotherly communion between Christians and through their mutual love
that the message of God's love for each and every man and woman will
become credible. Anyone who casts a realistic glance on the Christian
world today will see the urgency of this witness.
Simon Peter and Andrew were called together to become fishers of men.
This same task, however, took on a different form for each of the
brothers. Simon, notwithstanding his human weakness, was called
"Peter", the "rock" on which the Church was to be built; to him in a
particular way were entrusted the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt
16:18). His journey would take him from Jerusalem to Antioch, and from
Antioch to Rome, so that in that City he might exercise a universal
responsibility. The issue of the universal service of Peter and his
Successors has unfortunately given rise to our differences of opinion,
which we hope to overcome, thanks also to the theological dialogue
which has been recently resumed.
My venerable predecessor, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, spoke
of the mercy that characterizes Peter's service of unity, a mercy which
Peter himself was the first to experience (Encyclical "Ut Unum Sint,"
91). It is on this basis that Pope John Paul extended an invitation to
enter into a fraternal dialogue aimed at identifying ways in which the
Petrine ministry might be exercised today, while respecting its nature
and essence, so as to "accomplish a service of love recognized by all
concerned" (ibid., 95). It is my desire today to recall and renew this
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, received another task from the
Lord, one which his very name suggests. As one who spoke the Greek
language, he became -- together with Philip -- the Apostle of the
encounter with the Greeks who came to Jesus (cf. Jn 12:20ff.).
Tradition tells us that he was a missionary not only in Asia Minor and
the territories south of the Black Sea, that is, in this very region,
but also in Greece, where he suffered martyrdom.
The Apostle Andrew, therefore, represents the meeting between early
Christianity and Greek culture. This encounter, particularly in Asia
Minor, became possible thanks especially to the great Cappadocian
Fathers, who enriched the liturgy, theology and spirituality of both
the Eastern and the Western Churches. The Christian message, like the
grain of wheat (cf. Jn 12:24), fell on this land and bore much fruit.
We must be profoundly grateful for the heritage that emerged from the
fruitful encounter between the Christian message and Hellenic culture.
It has had an enduring impact on the Churches of East and West. The
Greek Fathers have left us a store of treasure from which the Church
continues to draw riches old and new (cf. Mt 13:52).
The lesson of the grain of wheat that dies in order to bear fruit also
has a parallel in the life of Saint Andrew. Tradition tells us that he
followed the fate of his Lord and Master, ending his days in Patras,
Greece. Like Peter, he endured martyrdom on a cross, the diagonal cross
that we venerate today as the cross of Saint Andrew. From his example
we learn that the path of each single Christian, like that of the
Church as a whole, leads to new life, to eternal life, through the
imitation of Christ and the experience of his cross.
In the course of history, both the Church of Rome and the Church of
Constantinople have often experienced the lesson of the grain of wheat.
Together we venerate many of the same martyrs whose blood, in the
celebrated words of Tertullian, became the seed of new Christians
("Apologeticum," 50, 13). With them, we share the same hope that impels
the Church to "press forward, like a stranger in a foreign land, amid
the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God" ("Lumen
Gentium," 8, cf. Saint Augustine, "De Civ. Dei," XVIII, 51, 2). For its
part, the century that has just ended also saw courageous witnesses to
the faith, in both East and West. Even now, there are many such
witnesses in different parts of the world. We remember them in our
prayer and, in whatever way we can, we offer them our support, as we
urge all world leaders to respect religious freedom as a fundamental
The Divine Liturgy in which we have participated was celebrated
according to the rite of Saint John Chrysostom. The cross and
resurrection of Jesus Christ have been made mystically present. For us
Christians this is a source and sign of constantly renewed hope. We
find that hope beautifully expressed in the ancient text known as the
Passion of Saint Andrew: "I greet you, O Cross, consecrated by the Body
of Christ and adorned by His limbs as by precious pearls … May the
faithful know your joy, and the gifts you hold in store …".
This faith in the redeeming death of Jesus on the cross, and this hope
which the Risen Christ offers to the whole human family, are shared by
all of us, Orthodox and Catholics alike. May our daily prayer and
activity be inspired by a fervent desire not only to be present at the
Divine Liturgy, but to be able to celebrate it together, to take part
in the one table of the Lord, sharing the same bread and the same
chalice. May our encounter today serve as an impetus and joyful
anticipation of the gift of full communion. And may the Spirit of God
accompany us on our journey!
Bartholomew I's Homily at Divine Liturgy
"We Are Reminded of the Need to Reach Unity in Faith as Well as in
ISTANBUL, Turkey, NOV. 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the homily
delivered today by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of
Constantinople, during the Divine Liturgy on the feast of the Apostle
Andrew, celebrated in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George at the
Phanar, Istanbul, attended by Benedict XVI.
* * *
With the grace of God, Your Holiness, we have been blessed to enter the
joy of the Kingdom, to "see the true light and receive the heavenly
Spirit." Every celebration of the Divine Liturgy is a powerful and
inspiring con-celebration of heaven and of history. Every Divine
Liturgy is both an anamnesis of the past and an anticipation of the
Kingdom. We are convinced that during this Divine Liturgy, we have once
again been transferred spiritually in three directions: toward the
kingdom of heaven where the angels celebrate; toward the celebration of
the liturgy through the centuries; and toward the heavenly kingdom to
This overwhelming continuity with heaven as well as with history means
that the Orthodox liturgy is the mystical experience and profound
conviction that "Christ is and ever shall be in our midst!" For in
Christ, there is a deep connection between past, present, and future.
In this way, the liturgy is more than merely the recollection of
Christ's words and acts. It is the realization of the very presence of
Christ Himself, who has promised to be wherever two or three are
gathered in His name.
At the same time, we recognize that the rule of prayer is the rule of
faith ("lex orandi lex credendi"), that the doctrines of the Person of
Christ and of the Holy Trinity have left an indelible mark on the
liturgy, which comprises one of the undefined doctrines, "revealed to
us in mystery," of which St. Basil the Great so eloquently spoke. This
is why, in liturgy, we are reminded of the need to reach unity in faith
as well as in prayer. Therefore, we kneel in humility and repentance
before the living God and our Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious Name we
bear and yet at the same time whose seamless garment we have divided.
We confess in sorrow that we are not yet able to celebrate the holy
sacraments in unity. And we pray that the day may come when this
sacramental unity will be realized in its fullness.
And yet, Your Holiness and beloved brother in Christ, this
con-celebration of heaven and earth, of history and time, brings us
closer to each other today through the blessing of the presence,
together with all the saints, of the predecessors of our Modesty,
namely St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom. We are
honored to venerate the relics of these two spiritual giants after the
solemn restoration of their sacred relics in this holy church two years
ago when they were graciously returned to us by the venerable Pope John
Paul II. Just as, at that time, during our Thronal Feast, we welcomed
and placed their saintly relics on the Patriarchal Throne, chanting
"Behold your throne!", so today we gather in their living presence and
eternal memory as we celebrate the Liturgy named in honor of St. John
Thus our worship coincides with the same joyous worship in heaven and
throughout history. Indeed, as St. John Chrysostom himself affirms:
"Those in heaven and those on earth form a single festival, a shared
thanksgiving, one choir" (PG 56.97). Heaven and earth offer one prayer,
one feast, one doxology. The Divine Liturgy is at once the heavenly
kingdom and our home, "a new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 21.1), the
ground and center where all things find their true meaning. The Liturgy
teaches us to broaden our horizon and vision, to speak the language of
love and communion, but also to learn that we must be with one another
in spite of our differences and even divisions. In its spacious
embrace, it includes the whole world, the communion of saints, and all
of God's creation. The entire universe becomes "a cosmic liturgy", to
recall the teaching of St. Maximus the Confessor. This kind of Liturgy
can never grow old or outdated.
The only appropriate response to this showering of divine benefits and
compassionate mercy is gratitude ("eucharistia"). Indeed, thanksgiving
and glory are the only fitting response of human beings to their
Creator. For to Him belong all glory, honor, and worship: Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit; now and always, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Truly, particular and wholehearted gratitude fills our hearts toward
the loving God, for today, on the festive commemoration of the Apostle
founder and protector of this Church, the Divine Liturgy is attended by
His Holiness our brother and bishop of the elder Rome, Pope Benedict
XVI, together with his honorable entourage. Once again, we gratefully
greet this presence as a blessing from God, as an expression of
brotherly love and honor toward our Church, and as evidence of our
common desire to continue -- in a spirit of love and faithfulness to
the Gospel Truth and the common tradition of our Fathers -- the
unwavering journey toward the restoration of full communion among our
Churches, which constitutes His divine will and command. May it be so.
Papal Homily in Istanbul's
"Church's Mission Is to Offer Christ"
DEC. 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican
translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today in the Catholic
Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, on the last day of his apostolic visit to
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At the conclusion of my pastoral visit to Turkey, I have the joy of
meeting the Catholic community of Istanbul and celebrating the
Eucharist in thanksgiving to the Lord for all his gifts. I wish first
to greet the Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomew I,
and the Armenian Patriarch, His Beatitude Mesrob II, my venerable
brothers, who have graciously joined us for this celebration. I express
to them my deep gratitude for this fraternal gesture, which honors the
entire Catholic community.
Dear brothers and sisters of the Catholic Church, Bishops, priests and
deacons, religious and lay men and women belonging to the different
communities of the city and the various rites of the Church: I greet
all of you with joy in the words of Saint Paul to the Galatians: "Grace
to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!" (Gal
1:3). I thank the civil authorities present for their gracious welcome,
and particularly all who made it possible for my visit to take place.
Finally, I greet the representatives of the other ecclesial communities
and the other religions who are present. How can we fail to think of
the various events which took place here and forged our common history?
At the same time I feel obliged to recall with particular gratitude the
many witnesses of the Gospel of Christ who urge us to work together for
the unity of all his disciples in truth and charity!
In this Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, I wish to thank God for all his
works in human history and to invoke upon everyone the gifts of the
Spirit of holiness. As Saint Paul has just reminded us, the Spirit is
the enduring source of our faith and unity. He awakens within us true
knowledge of Jesus and he puts on our lips the words of faith that
enable us to acknowledge the Lord. Jesus had already said to Peter
after his confession of faith at Caesarea Philippi: "Blessed are you,
Simon, Son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you,
but my Father in heaven" (Mt 16:17). We are indeed blessed when the
Holy Spirit opens us to the joy of believing and makes us enter the
great family of Christians, his Church. For all her rich diversity, in
the variety of gifts, ministries and works, the Church is already one,
since "it is the same God who inspires them all in every one". Saint
Paul adds that: "to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for
the common good". To manifest the Spirit, to live by the Spirit, is not
to live for oneself alone, but to let oneself be conformed to Christ
Jesus by becoming, like him, the servant of his brothers and sisters.
Here is a very concrete teaching for each of us Bishops, called by the
Lord to guide his people by becoming servants like him; it is also true
for all the Lord's ministers and for all the faithful: when we received
the sacrament of Baptism, all of us were immersed in the Lord's death
and resurrection, "we were given to drink of the one Spirit" and
Christ's life became our own, that we might live like him, that we
might love our brothers and sisters as he has loved us (cf. Jn 13:34).
Twenty-six years ago, in this very Cathedral, my predecessor, the
Servant of God John Paul II, expressed his hope that the dawn of the
new millennium would "rise upon a Church that has found again her full
unity, in order to bear witness better, amid the exacerbated tensions
of this world, to God's transcendent love, manifested in his Son Jesus
Christ" (Homily in the Cathedral of Istanbul, 5). This hope has not yet
been realized, but the Pope still longs to see it fulfilled, and it
impels us, as disciples of Christ advancing with our hesitations and
limitations along the path to unity, to act ceaselessly "for the good
of all", putting ecumenism at the forefront of our ecclesial concerns,
and not committing our respective Churches and communities to decisions
which could contradict or harm it. Thus we will truly live by the
Spirit of Jesus, at the service of the common good.
Gathered this morning in this house of prayer consecrated to the Lord,
how can we not evoke the other fine image that Saint Paul uses in
speaking of the Church, the image of the building whose stones are
closely fitted together to form a single structure, and whose
cornerstone, on which everything else rests, is Christ? He is the
source of the new life given us by the Father in the Holy Spirit. The
Gospel of Saint John has just proclaimed it: "out of his heart shall
flow rivers of living water". This gushing water, this living water
which Jesus promised to the Samaritan woman, was seen by the prophets
Zechariah and Ezechiel issuing forth from the side of the Temple, so
that it could make fruitful the waters of the Dead Sea: a marvelous
image of the promise of life that God has always made to his people and
that Jesus came to fulfill. In a world where men are so loath to share
the earth's goods and there is a dramatic shortage of water, this good
so precious for the life of the body, the Church discovers that she
possesses an even greater treasure. As the Body of Christ, she has been
charged to proclaim his Gospel to the ends of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19),
transmitting to the men and women of our time the Good News which not
only illuminates but overturns their lives, even to the point of
conquering death itself. This Good News is not just a word, but a
person, Christ himself, risen and alive! By the grace of the
sacraments, the water flowing from his open side on the Cross has
become an overflowing spring, "rivers of living water", a flood that no
one can halt, a gift that restores life. How could Christians keep for
themselves alone what they have received? How could they hoard this
treasure and bury this spring? The Church's mission is not to preserve
power, or to gain wealth; her mission is to offer Christ, to give a
share in Christ's own life, man's most precious good, which God himself
gives us in his Son.
Brothers and Sisters, your communities walk the humble path of daily
companionship with those who do not share our faith, yet "profess to
hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us adore the one, merciful
God" ("Lumen Gentium," 16). You know well that the Church wishes to
impose nothing on anyone, and that she merely asks to live in freedom,
in order to reveal the One whom she cannot hide, Christ Jesus, who
loved us to the end on the Cross and who has given us his Spirit, the
living presence of God among us and deep within us. Be ever receptive
to the Spirit of Christ and so become attentive to those who thirst for
justice, peace, dignity and respect for themselves and for their
brothers and sisters. Live in harmony, in accordance with the words of
the Lord: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you
have love for one another" (Jn 13:35).
Brothers and sisters, let us now hand over our desire to serve the Lord
to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Servant of the Lord. She prayed
in company with the Apostles in the Upper Room, in the days leading up
to Pentecost. Together with her, let us pray to Christ her Son: Send
forth, O Lord, your Holy Spirit upon the whole Church, that he may
dwell in each of her members and make them heralds of your Gospel!
Pope's Address in Armenian
"To Heal the Wounds of Separation"
ISTANBUL, Turkey, DEC. 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's
address to Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafina, delivered Thursday during the
celebration of the Word in the Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of
Istanbul. It followed the patriarch's own address.
* * *
Dear Brother in Christ,
I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet Your Beatitude in this
very place where Patriarch Kalustian welcomed my predecessors Pope Paul
VI and Pope John Paul II. With great affection I greet the entire
Armenian Apostolic community over which you preside as shepherd and
spiritual father. My fraternal greeting goes also to His Holiness
Karekin II, Catholicos of Holy Etchmiadzin, and the hierarchy of the
Armenian Apostolic Church. I give thanks to God for the Christian faith
and witness of the Armenian people, transmitted from one generation to
the next, often in very tragic circumstances such as those experienced
in the last century.
Our meeting is more than a simple gesture of ecumenical courtesy and
friendship. It is a sign of our shared hope in God's promises and our
desire to see fulfilled the prayer that Jesus offered for his disciples
on the eve of his suffering and death: "that they may all be one. As
you, Father, are in me and I in you, may they also be one in us, so
that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17:21). Jesus
gave his life on the Cross to gather into one the dispersed children of
God, to break down the walls of division. Through the sacrament of
Baptism, we have been incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church.
The tragic divisions which, over time, have arisen among Christ's
followers openly contradict the Lord's will, give scandal to the world
and damage that most holy cause, the preaching of the Gospel to every
creature (cf. "Unitatis Redintegratio," 1). Precisely by the witness of
their faith and love, Christians are called to offer a radiant sign of
hope and consolation to this world, so marked by conflicts and
tensions. We must continue therefore to do everything possible to heal
the wounds of separation and to hasten the work of rebuilding Christian
unity. May we be guided in this urgent task by the light and strength
of the Holy Spirit.
In this respect I can only offer heartfelt thanks to the Lord for the
deeper fraternal relationship that has developed between the Armenian
Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church. In the thirteenth century,
Nerses of Lambron, one of the great Doctors of the Armenian Church,
wrote these words of encouragement: "Now, since we all need peace with
God, let its foundation be harmony among the brethren. We have prayed
to God for peace and continue to do so. Look, he is now giving it to us
as a gift: let us welcome it! We asked the Lord to make his holy Church
solid, and he has willingly heard our plea. Let us climb therefore the
mountain of the Gospel faith!" ("Il Primato della Carità," Ed.
Qiqajon, p. 81). These words of Nerses have lost nothing of their
power. Together let us continue to pray for the unity of all
Christians, so that, by receiving this gift from above with open
hearts, we may be ever more convincing witnesses of the truth of the
Gospel and better servants of the Church's mission.
Patriarch Bartholomew I on the
Orthodox Church Leader
ISTANBUL, Turkey, DEC. 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's visit to
the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople "is of incalculable value
in the process of reconciliation," says Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew
In this interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire, the patriarch
revealed that he made an unexpected ecumenical proposal to the Pope.
Q: What can you tell us about this journey?
Bartholomew I: Above all, I must say that I truly thank His Holiness
for his visit to us on the feast day of St. Andrew. It is a truly very
significant step forward in our relations, and undertaken in the
framework of a journey which has made, on the whole, a contribution to
interreligious dialogue which I think is truly important.
Q: You and the Pope have seen one another face to face several times,
away from the cameras and journalists. What have you said to one
Bartholomew I: His Holiness showed his benevolence to the patriarchate
and its problems; for this reason we are truly grateful to him.
It has been an opportunity to know one another better, including the
cardinals of his entourage, with whom I think we have established a
good friendship, and this also seems to me to be very important.
We can truly say that this Thursday we lived a historic day, under many
aspects. Historic for ecumenical dialogue and, as we saw in the
afternoon, historic for the relationship between cultures and
religions. And, obviously, because of all this, historic also for our
Q: The addresses and common declaration you signed are "lofty" and
compromising. Have you also spoken of the future?
Bartholomew I: In this respect, I can say that I spoke with His
Holiness of something -- something that we could do. I presented him
with a proposal which I cannot now elaborate on, as we await an
official response, but I can say that His Holiness was very interested
and that he received it favorably.
We hope it can be undertaken as it is directed to that ecumenical
progress that, as we have affirmed and written in the common
declaration, both of us are determined to pursue.
Q: Why are you so determined?
Bartholomew I: Unity is a precious responsibility, but at the same time
a difficult one which must be assumed if it is not shared between
brothers. The history of the last millennium is a painful "memory" of
We are profoundly convinced that Benedict XVI's visit has incalculable
value in this process of reconciliation, as, in addition, it has taken
place at such a difficult time and in very delicate circumstances.
Without a doubt, with the help of God we are offered the opportunity to
take a beneficial step forward in the process of reconciliation in our
Churches. And perhaps, with the help of God, we will be given the
opportunity to surmount some of the barriers of incomprehension among
believers of different religions, in particular between Christians and
Q: Earlier you also mentioned the importance of this for Turkey. Why?
Bartholomew I: Being at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, this city
and this Church hold a truly unique position to foster a meeting among
modern civilizations. In a certain sense, Istanbul is the perfect place
to become a permanent center of dialogue between the different faiths
Benedict XVI's Evaluation of
"The Affection and Cordiality That Surrounded Me …"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the
address Benedict XVI gave at today's general audience, dedicated to
recall his apostolic journey to Turkey last week.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
As is already customary after every apostolic journey, in this general
audience I would like to review the different stages of the pilgrimage
I made to Turkey from Tuesday to Friday of last week. A visit that, as
you know, did not seem easy from several points of view, but which God
supported from the start and that in this way was able to unfold
happily. Therefore, just as I had asked that it be prepared and
supported with prayer, now I ask you to join me in thanking the Lord
for its development and conclusion.
I entrust to him the fruits that I hope will result from it, be it for
relations with our Orthodox brothers or for dialogue with Muslims.
In the first place, I feel the duty to renew my cordial gratitude to
the president of the republic, to the prime minister, and to the other
authorities, who welcomed me with so much courtesy and ensured the
necessary conditions so that all would unfold in the best way.
I give thanks fraternally to the bishops of the Catholic Church in
Turkey and to their collaborators for all they have done.
I address special gratitude to Patriarch Bartholomew I, who welcomed me
in his home, to Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, to Syro-Orthodox
Metropolitan Mor Filuksinos and to the other religious authorities.
Throughout the trip I felt particularly supported by my venerated
predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II, who
undertook a memorable visit to Turkey, and especially to Blessed John
XXIII, who was papal representative in that noble country from 1935 to
1944, leaving a memory full of affection.
Going back to the vision that the Second Vatican Council presents of
the Church (cf. constitution "Lumen Gentium," Nos. 14-16), I might say
that the Pope's trips also contributed to carry out his mission that
takes place in "concentric circles." In the innermost circle the
Successor of Peter confirms Catholic faithful in the faith, in the
intermediate circle he meets the other Christians, and in the farthest
out he addresses non-Christians and the whole of humanity.
The first day of my visit to Turkey took place in the ambit of this
third "circle," the largest. I met with the prime minister, the
president of the republic, and the president for religious affairs,
addressing my first speech to the latter. I rendered homage at the
mausoleum of the "father of the homeland," Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and
afterward I had the possibility to talk to the diplomatic corps in the
Apostolic Nunciature of Ankara.
This intense series of meetings was an important part of the visit,
especially because Turkey is a country which is predominantly Muslim,
which is governed by a constitution that affirms the state's
secularism. It is, therefore, a country which constitutes an emblem of
the great challenge posed today at the world level. On one hand, it is
necessary to rediscover the reality of God, the public importance of
religious faith and, on the other, to guarantee that the expression of
that faith is free, without fundamentalist degenerations and capable of
rejecting firmly any form of violence.
Therefore, I had the suitable opportunity to renew my sentiments of
esteem to Muslims and to the Islamic civilization. At the same time I
was able to insist on the importance that Christians and Muslims commit
themselves together in favor of the human being, of life, of peace and
of justice, reaffirming that the distinction between the civil and
religious spheres constitutes a value and that the state must guarantee
to the citizens and the religious communities effective freedom of
In the ambit of interreligious dialogue, Divine Providence allowed me
to carry out, almost at the end of my trip, a gesture that initially
was not foreseen and which revealed itself extremely significant: the
visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Remaining recollected for a few
minutes in that place of prayer, I turned to the only Lord of heaven
and earth, merciful Father of the whole of humanity, and implored that
all believers might recognize themselves as creatures and give witness
of authentic fraternity!
The second day took me to Ephesus, and I thus found myself rapidly in
the innermost "circle" of the trip, in direct contact with the Catholic
community. In Ephesus, in fact, in a pleasant place called
"Nightingale's Hill," looking over the Aegean Sea, is the Shrine of
Mary's House. It is an ancient and small chapel that has arisen around
the little house that, according to a very ancient tradition, the
Apostle John built for the Virgin Mary, after going with her to
Ephesus. Jesus himself had entrusted them to one another when, before
dying on the cross, he said to Mary: "Woman, behold, your son!" and to
John :"Behold, your mother!" (John 19:26-27).
Archaeological investigations have demonstrated that this place has
been since time immemorial a place of Marian devotion, loved also by
Muslims, who go there regularly to venerate her whom they call "Meryem
Ana," Mother Mary. In the garden next to the shrine I celebrated holy
Mass for a group of faithful who had come from nearby Izmir and other
parts of Turkey, as well as from abroad. We felt truly "at home" in
"Mary's House," and in that atmosphere of peace we prayed for peace in
the Holy Land and throughout the world. There I wished to remember
Father Andrea Santoro, a Roman priest, a witness of the Gospel on
Turkish soil with his blood.
The intermediate "circle," that of ecumenical relations, occupied the
central part of my trip, on the occasion of the feast of St. Andrew, on
November 30. This celebration served as an ideal context to consolidate
fraternal relations between the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter, and
the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, a Church founded according
to tradition by the Apostle St. Andrew, brother of Simon Peter.
Following in Paul VI's footsteps, who met with Patriarch Athenagoras,
and of John Paul II, who was welcomed by Athenagoras' successor,
Dimitrios I, I renewed together with His Holiness Bartholomew I this
gesture of great symbolic value to confirm the mutual commitment to
continue on the path toward the re-establishment of full communion
between Catholics and Orthodox.
To sanction this firm intention I signed along with the ecumenical
patriarch a "Joint Declaration," which is a further stage on this path.
It was extremely significant that this act took place at the end of the
solemn liturgy of the feast of St. Andrew, which I attended and which
concluded with the double blessing imparted by the Bishop of Rome and
by the patriarch of Constantinople, successors respectively of the
Apostles Peter and Andrew. In this way we manifested that prayer is
always at the base of every ecumenical effort and the persevering
invocation of the Holy Spirit.
In this same ambit, in Istanbul, I had the joy of visiting the
patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, His Beatitude Mesrob II,
and of meeting the Syro-Orthodox metropolitan. In this context, I
remember with pleasure the conversation I had with the Grand Rabbi of
My visit ended, exactly before returning to Rome, by returning to the
innermost "circle," that is, meeting with the Catholic community
present with all its constituents in the Latin Cathedral of the Holy
Spirit in Istanbul. Also attending this holy Mass were the ecumenical
patriarch, the Armenian patriarch, the Syro-Orthodox metropolitan and
representatives of the Protestant churches. In short, all Christians
were gathered in prayer, in the diversity of their traditions, rites
and languages. Comforted by the Word of Christ, who promises believes
"rivers of living water" (John 7:38), and by the image of the many
members united in only one body (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13), we lived
the renewed experience of Pentecost.
Dear Brothers and Sisters: I have returned to the Vatican with my
spirit full of gratitude to God and with sentiments of sincere
affection and esteem for the inhabitants of the beloved Turkish nation,
by whom I have felt welcomed and understood. The affection and
cordiality that surrounded me, despite the inevitable difficulties that
my visit caused to the normal unfolding of daily activities, remain
with me as an intense memory that leads me to pray. May the Almighty
and Merciful God help the Turkish people, its political leaders and the
representatives of the religions to build together a future of peace so
that Turkey can be a "bridge" of friendship and fraternal collaboration
between West and East.
Let us pray, moreover, so that through the intercession of Mary Most
Holy, the Holy Spirit will make this apostolic journey fruitful, and
encourage throughout the world the mission of the Church, instituted by
Christ to proclaim to all peoples the Gospel of truth, peace and love.
[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in
several languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I invite you to join me in thanking God for the success of my
recent Apostolic visit to Turkey. On my first day I met civic
representatives, and reminded them of the great need to rediscover God
and the public relevance of faith, while ensuring that such faith is
properly understood and lived authentically. In expressing my esteem
for Islamic civilization, I urged Christians and Muslims to work
together for peace, justice and life! The following day I visited
Ephesus and the sanctuary nearby where, according to an ancient
tradition, the Apostle John constructed a house for the Virgin Mary.
During Mass we prayed for peace in the Holy Land and the whole world.
The feast of Saint Andrew was dedicated to consolidating fraternal
relationships between the Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch
of Constantinople. In signing a Joint Declaration, we reaffirmed our
commitment to follow the path of full communion between Catholics and
Orthodox. My visit was concluded in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in
Istanbul, where Christians from various traditions, gathered in prayer,
experienced a renewed Pentecost! Full of gratitude and affection for
the people of Turkey, I invite you all to pray that country may enjoy a
peaceful future, as a bridge of friendship between the West and the
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including the
student groups from America, Australia and Denmark. May your Advent
visit to Rome be a time of renewed hope and joy. Upon all of you, I
invoke God's abundant Blessings!
Papal Trip "Has Borne Fruit
in All Directions"
Interview With Vatican Spokesman
Father F. Lombardi
ISTANBUL, Turkey, DEC. 6, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's historic
trip to Turkey brought better results than many people expected, says a
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office,
evaluated the four-day visit on Vatican Radio last Friday, the last day
of the trip. This is an adapted translation of that interview.
Q: What is your global assessment of this trip?
Father Lombardi: Obviously it is an extremely positive evaluation -- an
evaluation that is certainly higher than the expectations could have
been, probably on the part of the Pope himself and his collaborators.
I recall that also in the past, when there were especially compromising
trips, let's also say, "difficult." […] For John Paul II, the courage
of the Pope was always seen, who faced them with great determination
and faith, always obtaining extraordinarily higher results than could
I think the same thing has happened now with Benedict XVI. This is very
beautiful and encouraging, because it means that the faith and courage
of the Popes is also rewarded when facing situations of uncertainty. An
extremely positive evaluation in all aspects, therefore, both in the
relationship with the Turkish people and the Turkish state, as well as
in the relationship with the Muslim religion, ecumenical relations with
the other Christian confessions and, finally, the encouragement for the
local Catholic community.
Q: Let's try to reflect on this trip describing it in images. Certainly
indelible among these is the Pope's recollection in meditation at the
Blue Mosque, a gesture that has made a great impression.
Father Lombardi: I'd say yes. That, in fact, was the moment that
attracted most attention and, in a certain sense, it is also the one
that was, perhaps, the most novel and unexpected as regards a few weeks
It seems to me that, thinking also on what occurred in previous months
-- the discussions or reactions following the misunderstandings on the
Regensburg address -- the visit to the mosque and the subsequent moment
of recollection constituted the symbolic act that, in a certain sense,
has achieved more and taken to the common and also the popular
conscience what the clarifications made in words and in the different
statements proposed by the Pope and his collaborators in past months
But what was also still lacking was precisely that act, that physical
step, that moment of cordial meeting with a smile, an open heart, which
would demonstrate and make it understood that the distances were
surmounted and that the dialogue was something real, profound and
I would say that, in addition to the moment of recollection, also the
cordiality of the dialogue with the Great Mufti and with the imam, who
welcomed the Pope in the mosque, was an especially expressive and happy
Q: Let's reflect on another strong image of the trip: Benedict XVI's
embrace with Bartholomew I, a sign of a cordiality and, we could say,
of an affection that seems to encourage the ecumenical path.
Father Lombardi: This is a path that continues, a path that Pope
Benedict XVI has placed from the beginning, from the first day of his
election, among the priorities of his pontificate.
I would say that, in addition to that gesture, also of great
significance were the words the Pope uttered in his address during the
Divine Liturgy, when renewing that courageous, profound and cordial
invitation of John Paul II to talk together, to seek together ways to
define this universal ministry of Peter at the service of the unity of
the whole Church, and likewise the explicit desire for unity that he
kept stressing during the homily in the last Mass in the Catholic
Cathedral of Istanbul.
The passionate desire for unity states that the priority of the
pontificate is truly very present and the embrace with Patriarch
Bartholomew I and also the embraces of peace with other Orthodox
representatives and those of other Christian confessions present in the
conclusive Mass of the trip are very expressive.
There was also an occasion, on the part of the ecumenical patriarch, to
touch upon specific problems in which the Orthodox Church appeals for
solidarity, for the Catholic Church's friendship in its situations of
It is, therefore, an ecumenism that must continue, both from the point
of view of doctrinal, theological and ecclesiological in depth study,
as well as from that of concrete charity, closeness and solidarity for
the mission of evangelization and Christian witness in today's world,
which is truly in very great need of it.
Q: In Ephesus and in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul, the
intense and even at times moving meeting with the small Catholic
community of Turkey, and on several occasions during the apostolic
journey, the Pope requested that religious liberty be guaranteed. What
expectations can one now have?
Father Lombardi: This request for the affirmation of religious liberty,
which itself is present in the Turkish Constitution, was certainly
manifested, but with an interpretation that, in practice, at times
leaves much to be desired, creating difficulties.
The affirmation of the principle was, therefore, very clear, and not
only in addresses but also in conversations held with different
authorities, both by the Pope as well as his collaborators.
There was also, in particular during the meeting with the deputy prime
minister, the specific proposal to establish a commission at the level
of government and of representatives of the Church to address these
In this connection, it was certainly an encouragement for the life of
the Catholic community, for its faith and enthusiasm, but also a
premise to take concrete steps of continuity, so that the premises
posed by this visit can develop and bear fruits.
One of the points that impressed me, especially in the conclusive Mass,
was that of the unity and community among the different rites. There
were four different rites of Catholic Christian communities that live
in Istanbul and that manifested their variety and richness in the
There was, therefore, also an invitation to unity, to the communion of
riches, of traditions and of cultural expressions within the Catholic
Church. A cordial invitation, the latter, which has come from this
prayer meeting to which the Pope also made explicit reference more than
Q: As is known, the expectations of the trip were many, coupled also
with some concerns. Can it then be said, without exaggeration, that the
Pope has been able to win everyone over, perhaps even beyond the
Father Lombardi: I'd say yes, and this seems to me an extremely
The trip has borne fruit in all directions and this has shown that
there were no directions that were opposed, divergent or in competition
among themselves, but that peace can be built and that positive
messages can be given to invite all those of good will to collaborate
and build better coexistence.
I would not like to forget, in fact, the strong appeals for peace in
the Middle East, very close to here -- Turkey is, in a certain sense, a
nation of this geographic area -- that the Pope has voiced on several
occasions, encouraging the commitment of the international community
and, especially, also of this great nation, for peace in this most
An Interreligious Milestone
Interview with Franciscan Father Tierrablanca
ISTANBUL, Turkey, DEC. 8, 2006 (Zenit.org).- With his recent trip to
Turkey, Benedict XVI marked a milestone in overcoming misunderstandings
with the Muslim world, says one of the direct witnesses of that
Father Ruben Tierrablanca, of the Province of Sts. Peter and Paul of
Michoacan, Mexico, currently forms part of the international Franciscan
community of Santa Maria Draperis in Turkey.
In this interview with ZENIT, the Franciscan tells of his experience as
a member of the small Catholic community in Turkey, and the effect of
the Pope's visit both for Catholics in Turkey, and in promoting
understanding between cultures.
Q: How did Catholics in Turkey prepare for the visit and how was
Benedict XVI received?
Father Tierrablanca: We lived a very special moment in Istanbul on the
eve of Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey. In addition to the joyful
awaiting of the little flock of the Catholic Church in this country of
Muslim majority, we were intensely aware that the eyes of the world
were upon Turkey for political reasons, as well as those of an
For several weeks the constant telephone calls and visits of
journalists, television channels, reporters and analysts of present-day
society, kept us occupied. They would ask: How do Christians live in
Turkey? What does the Pope's visit mean for you? Why have Christians
decreased so much in the last century and even more so in recent years?
Why can't the religious habit be used on the streets? Are you afraid of
the violent reactions of fundamentalists and nationalists?
We tried to answer all these questions with clarity and simplicity. It
would be better if journalists and other friends came to live here at
least for a short time to understand more and better and thus avoid
some newspaper headlines that cause scandal and harm everyone.
Q: What is the present situation of Catholics in that country?
Father Tierrablanca: The present situation and the limits at the
socio-political and religious level in which we live here and the
difficulties we have every now and then, are not very different from
those of apostolic times. The Acts of the Apostles describe a nascent
Church within the Roman empire and in the midst of polytheism.
Turkey now has a republican secular government and a Muslim population,
but the mistrust of the evangelical message and Christian life is very
similar: It is thought that there is a desire to diminish the identity
of a nation and the integrity of a religion.
In reality Christian life, if it is true and credible, would lead all
to a more human understanding of life and of peaceful coexistence. For
us Christians it would be about commitment to the kingdom of Christ,
for non-Christians it would be a call to live their own values and
principles of faith together with the admirable and proverbial
tradition of hospitality of the people of the East.
Q: What does this visit to Turkey, a country where Catholics are a
minority, mean at the present time of tense relations between
Christianity and Islam?
Father Tierrablanca: "I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the
strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the
weak" (Ezekiel 34:16). I have recalled this phrase of the prophet
Ezekiel spontaneously thinking of the Holy Father's pastoral visit to
the Church of Turkey.
Our Catholic community is small in number, in need of stimulation, and
at times exhausted. But now over these days it has met with its pastor,
Vicar of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The journalists who
accompanied the Pope on the plane should have accentuated the pastoral
dimension as the fundamental reason of this visit; here in Turkey we
have wanted to allow ourselves to be guided by our pastor and father,
and with him to revive our faith and to rejoice in the hope that does
Many other countries and regions of the world would like to have the
Pope among them, but he has been among us, to bind up the wounded sheep
and care for the sick, to confirm us in the faith in this strip of
earth, boundary of continents.
Q: You have been very close to this event: Tell us about the meetings
with the Christian people of Turkey.
Father Tierrablanca: "This will be a time for you to bear testimony"
(Luke 21:13). Dedicating the first afternoon of the visit to matters of
protocol, the Supreme Pontiff delivered two addresses, the first at the
headquarters of the minister of religious affairs, Ali Bardagoglu, the
second before the diplomatic corps accredited in Ankara.
We have heard encouraging expressions on the determined and frank
disposition of the Catholic Church to "dialogue as instrument of
encounter between cultures and religions."
Moreover, quoting the Conciliar Constitution "Gaudium et Spes," he said
that peace is not only the absence of war, but "the fruit of order
planted in human society by its divine founder, and for men, always
thirsty for a more perfect justice" (no. 78).
Personally, it makes me recall the numerous interventions in the
promotion of a true and lasting peace in the world made by his
predecessor and much remembered Pope John Paul II.
Necessarily, the word of the Gospel will always illuminate our path and
inspire the evangelizing work of the Church. For this reason I have
taken the phrase of today's Gospel to reflect more deeply on these
addresses which must not remain locked in archives.
We all know that this trip had its risks, perhaps the greatest risk is
in the correct interpretation of his words more than a police matter.
"But not a hair of your head will fall," our lord and master Jesus
Christ tells us today.
And now, that the Pope has returned to the Vatican, our life must
continue following his example and teaching, because "by your
perseverance you will save your souls," once again our lord Jesus
Christ gives us the security.
Q: What was the most important aspect, in your eyes, of this visit?
Father Tierrablanca: We know that the primary and fundamental motive of
the Pope's visit was the common desire between the Catholic Church and
the Orthodox Church to advance on the path of ecumenism, to the unity
of Christians, evangelical commitment of every Christian.
We have lived with great hope that the joint declaration, signed Nov.
30, will be a firm point to undo and surmount several prejudices and
again celebrate the mysteries of our common Trinitarian faith, in Jesus
Christ, son of God, present in the Eucharist and operating in his one
Also the two Eucharistic celebrations which the Pope presided over on
Nov. 29 in Ephesus, at the "Meryem Ana Evi" shrine -- House of Mary --
and on Dec. 1 in the Holy Spirit Cathedral with the Catholic community
-- in the latter almost half were visitors for the occasion as the
Catholic community in Turkey is not so numerous as was seen on
television in those celebrations -- were in consonance with the
Q: As a Franciscan friar, who is active in the area of interreligious
dialogue, what do you draw from this visit?
Father Tierrablanca: For us, friars minor of the international
fraternity of Santa Maria Draperis, it is a unique, historic occasion:
Three years after the opening of this fraternity, dedicated to
ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, to have a visit from the Holy
Father in search of Christian unity is truly a blessing.
Now I remember what Bartholomew I told us the first time he received us
in the Orthodox patriarchate on Dec. 30, 2003, when Friar Gwenole asked
him to bless our project and give us some advice for our work: "Love
these people," was his answer, obviously he was referring to the
For his part, Benedict XVI has given the universal Church his
encyclical "Deus Caritas Est." We cannot ask for more; we have received
the necessary and sure indications to undertake our path of dialogue.