Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's official: Pope to visit Turkey

Interesting time for announcement, but that can't be helped.

Confirmed: Pope to visit Turkey in November

Feb. 09 ( - Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Turkey at the end of November 2006, the Vatican has confirmed.

In a short announcement released on February 9, the Vatican press office said that Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer had issued a formal invitation, which the Pontiff had accepted. The dates for the trip are set for November 28 to 30.

. . . The Pope's visit will coincide with the feast of St. Andrew, the patron of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, on November 30. Shortly after Pope Benedict's election, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I had invited the Pope to join him for the celebration of that feast day. The Pontiff had accepted the invitation, but his wish to make the trip in 2005 was thwarted by the Turkish government's reluctance to issue a quick invitation. . . . The official announcement of the papal trip comes just as Church officials are still mourning the death of Father Andrea Santoro, an Italian missionary priest who was killed in Turkey on February 5, apparently by an Islamic fanatic. The slain priest had only recently written to Pope Benedict, asking the Holy Father to visit his little parish in the Black Sea port town of Trabzon, during his stay in Turkey.

Hmmm, I wonder if the Pope will manage a visit to honor the "martyr" of Trabzon? (Or if the Turkish government will allow it: "Holiness, we simply cannot guarantee your safety . . .")

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