Papal visit to Turkey might cause problems
- 2005.08.30 RIAN: Papal visit to Turkey might cause problems -- expert
30/ 08/ 2005
ANKARA, August 30 (RIA Novosti, Andrei Palaria) - The November 30
trip of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey might lead to inter-faith
problems, the head of a religious foundation in Turkey said.
Muammer Karabulut, the chairman of the Saint Nicholas Foundation,
said the concerns were related to the pontiff's support for the
policy pursued by the Constantinople Patriarchate, which claimed
jurisdiction over all eparchies beyond canonical territories
belonging to Orthodox churches.
"The trip is nothing other than a move aiming to secure international
recognition for ecumenism (world-wide status) of the Constantinople
Patriarchate," Karabulut said. "The Roman Catholic Church would be
making an irrevocable mistake if it did this, so we believe it would
be reasonable to postpone Benedict XVI's trip to Istanbul."
He also said that the Constantinople Patriarchate had lost its
ecumenism in 1434.
The ecumenical work of the current patriarch of Constantinople,
Bartholomew, has repeatedly led to disputes in recent years in
Turkey's political circles over of the Patriarchate's status.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul recently drew the line under
arguments, by saying that the Constantinople Patriarchate would
retain its current status under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which
also determined the current status of Turkey. The treaty "has no
reference either to the patriarchate's or the patriarch's status,"
the minister said.
"If Benedict XVI visited Hagia Sophia Cathedral, [the Church of the
Holy Wisdom in Istanbul], it would lead to unnecessary arguments and
protests in Turkey," Karabulut said.
Experts said the heightened interest in the pontiff's trip to
Istanbul was due to upcoming discussions between Turkey and the
European Union on the country's EU membership. European watchers have
highlighted the differences between the positions of the pontiff and
the Constantinople patriarch on the issue, because as Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger, prior to becoming the head of the Catholic Church, the
current pope publicly opposed Turkish membership in the EU, whereas
Patriarch Bartholomew supported it.