Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Pope comes to Turkey

Next week's trip to Turkey will be Pope Benedict’s first visit to a Muslim country. And it promises to be interesting in many ways.

In September, Pope Benedict quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who said the Prophet Mohammed had brought the world nothing but "evil and inhuman" things. The pontiff later said that he was "deeply sorry" for his remarks. But he has not retracted them. As Cardinal Ratzinger, he espoused the view that Turkey was a Middle Eastern country that did not belong in the EU. Ratzinger also publicly cautioned Europe against admitting Turkey and wrote to bishops the reason for his stand:
The roots that have formed Europe, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe. There were the [old Ottoman Empire] wars against the Byzantine Empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. It would be an error to equate the two continents...Turkey is founded upon Islam...Thus the entry of Turkey into the EU would be anti-historical.

The president of the state-controlled Religious Affairs Directorate, Ali Bardakoglu, has said that while the visit may help to improve relations between the Catholic and Muslim worlds, the pope should offer a complete apology for his remarks. The Turks are expecting the Pope to demonstrate in his public pronouncements respect for Islam and support for Catholic-Muslim dialogue. It will, in their view, also provide an occasion for him to clarify his statement regarding Turkey's place in Europe.

But in general the Turkish government has reacted very, very coolly to the visit. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won't even be meeting Benedict, instead flying to Latvia to attend a Nato Summit. A calculated snub.

Papal visits abroad are normally associated with large crowds of the faithful turning out to greet the leader of their church. This time, large-scale protests by Islamists and nationalist extremists are almost inevitable. Not that the Pope is in any physical danger: the police will be out in force. And the populations of Ankara and İstanbul will have to endure a raft of sweeping security measures (in cities that are already plagued by every imaginable form of chaos). If truth be told, I shall not be venturing out much.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see no reason why the Pope should go anyways...he shouldn't, as a Christian give a fuck about building a better relationship with muslims...as we all shouldn't.

If you are religious and Christian, then you must consider muslims heretics, amongst others...so why build a relationship?

He is right in many ways though that Europe is Christian...but why is it wrong to say so when the mussie stated aim is world domination?

Colin said...

"the Pope should ... as a Christian give a fuck".

??

Unfortunately, my English is not as sophisticated as yours. Could you please explain to me the meaning of "giving a fuck", Shotgun?

istanbultory said...

I believe Shotgun is using obscure theological language again. Perhaps His Grace, Archbishop Cranmer could offer an explanation?

Ellee said...

This is going to be exciting and I know we will have some first rate blogging from you about it. The Pope is indeed brave after the anger he caused earlier this year.

I would hope that the Pope would want to build relationships will all mankind - the saying he who casts the first stone springs to mind.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, my English is not as sophisticated as yours. Could you please explain to me the meaning of "giving a fuck", Shotgun?

Care.

The Pope already does advocate peace and love to all mankind Ellee...but that doesn't mean blind adherence and love of their religion, which is a different issue.

I don't hate someone because they are muslim...but that doesn't mean I should or must love and respect them or their religion, or try and make them comfortable.

Too many people forget that little factoid and would call me racist (muslims are a race?)

Anonymous said...

Staying at home is probably the best idea. I was in Ankara on the Saturday morning that turned out to be Ecevit's funeral, and had to walk most of the way to the bus station. Almost missed my coach home.

I'm not sure how sympathetic I am to Benedict as a character. He's certainly not done a lot yet to appease Turkey from a religous or an EU perspective, and it's added to his unpopularity.

Anonymous said...

Staying at home is probably the best idea. I was in Ankara on the Saturday morning that turned out to be Ecevit's funeral, and had to walk most of the way to the bus station. Almost missed my coach home.

I wouldn't go so far as to describe the Pope as "brave", though. He's off to Turkey, not a land of anarchy, and the idea is that he is protected as well as he would be in any country.

I'm not sure how sympathetic I am to Benedict as a character. He's certainly not done a lot yet to appease Turkey from a religous or an EU perspective, and it's added to his unpopularity.

Anonymous said...

When will the Turks withdraw to their 1100AD borders ? It is ridiculous that these interlopers from Central asia have caused such disastrous mess in the Middle East and Balkans as well as destroyeing Christian Civilisation wherever their barbarity has set foot