Friday, February 10, 2006

Turkey, Moslems and Catholics

I lived in Turkey for a year when I was in my early twenties. We were stationed at an outpost, about 50 km outside of Istanbul and used to travel by bus every Sunday to the Italian consulate for Mass in English said by a Salesian priest. We always sang the same three songs in English Immaculate Mary, Come Holy Ghost and Holy God, We Praise Thy Name. Besides the four Americans from the base, the rest were all workers in the American and Canadian consulates.

Two stories about Turkey in the news today:

First a Friar is threatened, this on the heals of the priest who was murdered:

A group of Turkish youths threatened to kill a Catholic friar, grabbing him by the throat and shouting "God is Greatest", just days after a Catholic priest was shot dead in Turkey, the friar said on Friday.

Martin Kmetec, a Franciscan friar from Slovenia, opened the door of his house on Thursday to find seven or eight angry men in their twenties.

"He took me by the throat and pulled me inside and said 'we're going to finish you off' ... he also said Allahu Akbar (Arabic for God is Greatest)," Kmetec told Reuters by telephone from his church in the province of Izmir.

Kmetec closed the door on the youths, who said they were nationalists and the group, after trying to break the door down, left.

Next, Pope Benedict will travel to Turkey in November:

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer's formal invitation to Pope Benedict XVI was conveyed to the Vatican on Thursday. Sources said that the Pope's visit to Turkey was scheduled to take place between November 28th-December 1st, 2006.
After his election, the Pope stated that he wanted to participate in the feast day of St. Andrew in 2005 and meet Fener-Greek Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul, and the Fener-Greek Patriarchate invited the Pope to Turkey.

However, following arguments on this invitation, the Vatican officials said that they expected formal invitation from Ankara. Then, President Sezer formally invited the Pope to Turkey in 2006.