St Paul's 2000th anniversary focus for Turkish Catholics

Turkish Catholics have appealed to the government to allow celebrations to take place at St Paul's Church in Tarsus to commemorate the Saint's 2000th anniversary.

Catholic News Agency reports that the church, which is now a state run museum, would be the ideal place for pilgrims to feel "at home and pray." The church is in the region in which St Paul was born.

The Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia Bishop Luigi Padovese told Ecumenical News International the anniversary was certain to attract large numbers of pilgrims.

"A government commission is now formally considering our request. But senior officials have agreed we should be able to worship here," Padovese said.

"After all, we're not missionaries - we are merely answering the needs of church members."

Bishop Padovese said a pastoral letter will be read in all Catholic churches in Turkey on January 25, the date celebrating the anniversary of St. Paul's conversion to Christianity.

Pope Benedict XVI has declared 2008 to be the Year of St. Paul.

Catholics in Turkey to celebrate two millennia of St. Paul (Catholic News Agency 13/01/08)

Archeologists discover St Paul's tomb (CathNews 18/02/05)
Benedict turns to Paul to promote unity (CathNews 29/06/07)
St Paul turns 2000 (CathNews, 28/6/07)

15 Jan 2008