Pope to Turkey: It's On
The bishops of Turkey today followed Ankara’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdullah Gul, in confirming that the visit of Benedict XVI will take place as planned, from 28 November to 1 December, according to the set itinerary.Good thing Marini's still there -- when it comes to creating peace, love and reconciliation in the worship, nobody does it better.
Turkish dailies are debating whether the pope’s words yesterday at Castel Gandolfo – carried by all newspapers – could pass for a public apology. There are those who claim to be satisfied, seeing the pope’s statement as a sign that he withdrew what he said, but others are still not happy. Also reported was the unequivocal declaration by Foreign Minister Gul yesterday: “Certainly the pope’s comments were really unfortunate, not only for Muslims but for the whole world, including Christians. But they do not interfere with the trip of Benedict XVI, which has been already organized for the end of November. A change in programme is out of the question for us right now. Much has been said about the matter but I hope all this will not impact on his visit to Turkey.”
And this morning, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Turkey, as planned, met in Istanbul to discuss details of the trip’s itinerary. They were joined by Mgr Piero Marini, head of the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. They share the view that at this point, there is no reason to call off the visit and in fact, after reading together the statement of clarification by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the bishops turned their attention to details of the trip set to take place as scheduled from 28 November to 1 December.
There are three stages in the visit: Ankara, Ephesus and Istanbul, where the pope will meet Turkish civil authorities as well as Christian religious representatives – first and foremost the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II – and the small Catholic community in Turkey.
So unless events to the contrary take over, the trip will be held as planned.