Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey (November 28

Patriarchate website on the papal visit


Significance of Benedict XVI's Trip to Turkey

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 journey to Turkey, this coming Tuesday to Friday. It was prepared by Archbishop Piero Marini, master of the liturgical celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

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1. The Significance of the Apostolic Journey

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 Islamic world.

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 Christ.

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 each Rite.

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 Ecclesial Communities".

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 Patriarchate.

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 communities.

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 journey

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 Catholic community

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 Istanbul;

-- 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 vernacular.

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 and Spanish.

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 celebrations

There 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 Phanar

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 Gospel.

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 conclusion.

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 Mary

The prayers and ritual sequences making up the prayer service have been drawn from various elements of the Eucharistic celebration of the Armenian Liturgy.

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 Benedict XVI.

III. Conclusion

The Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff is most grateful to all those who assisted in the publication of the present volume.

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 Apostolic Cathedral.

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
Tuesday-to-Friday Visit

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.

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Tuesday, Nov. 28

Fiumicino (Rome)

9 a.m. Departure from Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport of Rome/Fiumicino to Ankara

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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 Father)
-- Meeting with the Diplomatic Corps (Address of the Holy Father)
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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)

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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 conference

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Friday, Dec. 1

-- Holy Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (Homily of the Holy Father)
-- Farewell ceremony at the Airport of Istanbul
-- 1:15 p.m. Departure from the Airport of Istanbul to Rome

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Ciampino (Rome)

3:45 p.m. Arrival at the Airport of Ciampino (Rome)



 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."

  As he 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 Turkey.

  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 department.

   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 Affairs Director
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.

The 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.

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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 Kemal Atatürk.

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 flock here.

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).

Christians 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 convictions.

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.

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Your Excellencies,
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 Almighty.


The Demands of Dialogue With Muslims
Interview With Catholic Theologian Ilaria Morali

ROME, 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 Turkey.

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 movements.

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 content.

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 exchange.

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 exchange.

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 religions."

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 previously.

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 exposed.

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 extremist formations.

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 Catholic theology.

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, quoting authors.

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 Lived
Structure Near Ephesus Was Ancient Pilgrimage Site

EPHESUS, 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 plain.

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.

Pilgrimage site

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 Virgin's dormition.

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"

EPHESUS, 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.

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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 Pontificate. 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
us peace, 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 throughout history.

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 Be One"
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 One."

* * *

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 133:1)

Your Holiness,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Orthodox Patriarch's Welcome Address to Pope
"We Are Equally Accountable for the Steps Along the Journey"

ISTANBUL, Turkey, 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.

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Your Holiness, beloved Brother in the Lord,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Declaration by Pope and Orthodox Patriarch
"We Must Strengthen Our Cooperation"

ISTANBUL, Turkey, 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, Istanbul.

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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 significant gestures.

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 human life.

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 Divine Liturgy
"We Are Called … to Renew Europe's Awareness of Its Christian Roots"

ISTANBUL, 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 Phanar, Istanbul.

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 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 invitation.

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 human right.

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 Prayer"

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.

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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 come.

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 Chrysostom.

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 Catholic Cathedral
"Church's Mission Is to Offer Christ"

ISTANBUL, Turkey, 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 Turkey.

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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 Apostolic Cathedral
"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.

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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 Papal Visit
Interview With 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 I.

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 another?

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 country.

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 this reality.

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 Muslims.

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 and cultures.


Benedict XVI's Evaluation of Turkish Trip
"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 worship.

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 Turkey.

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 East!

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 Vatican spokesman.

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 be imagined.

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 ago.

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 could not.

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 sincere.

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 moment.

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 difficulty.

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 concrete problems.

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 morning liturgy.

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 once yesterday.

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 expectations?

Father Lombardi: I'd say yes, and this seems to me an extremely positive result.

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 critical region.

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 apostolic pilgrimage.

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 interreligious order.

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 not deceive.

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 Church.

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 ecumenical path.

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 Turkish people.

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.