Nov 12, 2006

Benedict XVI in Turkey

The itinerary of Pope Benedict XVI has now been announced for his visit to Turkey on November 28-December 1. I am most intrigued by the statement that "On Thursday morning, Nov. 30, Benedict XVI will take part in the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul. He will deliver an address and sign a joint declaration."

The Pope is expected to encounter a chilly welcome from this 99% Muslim country. The Turkish Daily News implies the Pope could be assassinated, as described in a book written by Yucel Kaya, Plot Against the Pope (which Zenit says is one of the best selling novels in Turkey). The story was noted by Reuters back in September.

The cover of the Kaya book, sub-titled "Who will kill the pope in Istanbul?" features Benedict XVI with a cross engulfed in flames behind him, and a bearded man aiming a gun at the pontiff. The Vatican representative in Turkey is quite concerned because attacks on priests have become somewhat routine recently.

Mehmet Ali Ağca, the Turk who attempted to kill the late Pope John Paul II in 1981, stated from prison that the Pope should not travel to Turkey because he would be unsafe. Moreover, a 26-year-old Muslim has fired four shots into the air in front of the Italian Consulate in Istanbul to protest the Pope's visit to Turkey.

Gerald Augustinus of The Cafeteria is Closed and many others have expressed concern about the Pope in Turkey. The Vatican's secretary of state, Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has asked Christians to pray for the Pope's pilgrimage.

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