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Pope Turkey trip looking likely for November


CLICK HEREA top Vatican official said he expects Pope Benedict to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, in late November for a meeting with Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

Catholic News Service reports that Cardinal Walter Kasper, who coordinates ecumenical dialogue at the Vatican, said Patriarch Bartholomew had issued the invitation the day after the pope's election last April.

"I referred this proposal to the pope, who welcomed it with great pleasure. I think Pope Benedict will make the visit to the Orthodox patriarchate on 30 November, the feast of St Andrew," Cardinal Kasper told the Italian Catholic news agency SIR.

Each year, the Vatican sends a delegation to Istanbul for the celebration of the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the ecumenical patriarchate, and the patriarchate sends a delegation to Rome for the 29 June celebration of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Vatican patrons.

Patriarch Bartholomew personally attended the Sts. Peter and Paul liturgy in June 2004 and invited Pope John Paul II to return the visit in November, but the late pope's health made the trip impossible.

Pope John Paul travelled to Istanbul in 1979 to underline the church's continuing ecumenical commitment. Before him, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras held a groundbreaking meeting in 1964 in the Holy Land.

Pope Benedict has said repeatedly that he wants to make ecumenism a priority of his pontificate.

Patriarch Bartholomew, who holds a place of special honour among the world's Orthodox leaders, welcomed Pope Benedict's election and said it was a sign of hope for ecumenism.

"The new pope, an excellent theologian, will value our church's wealth of theology and spirituality and wishes to cooperate with it and support theological dialogue," Patriarch Bartholomew said in a statement on 20 April.

Vatican officials would not officially confirm the papal visit. A trip to Turkey would need to involve the cooperation of the Turkish government.

Several months before his election, Pope Benedict -- then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- said he thought it would be a mistake to admit Turkey to the European Union, citing historical and cultural differences. Turkish officials replied that the Vatican was extraneous to the EU membership issue.

SOURCE
Vatican official says he expects November papal trip to Istanbul (Catholic News Service 7/9/05)

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Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

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8 Sep 2005