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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Pope visits Turkey


The Pope Tones Down His Act in Turkey
Long known for his rigid thinking, Benedict XVI shows new flexibility in trying to mend fences in the wake of his controversial speech about Islam
By JEFF ISRAELY/ANKARA


Posted Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006
Joseph Ratzinger has never been known for his flexibility. As a university theologian and the Vatican's top doctrinal watchdog, the German prelate consistently stuck to his intellectual guns, sometimes stepping on sensibilities in the process. That unbendable belief in his own truth may have indeed gotten the now Pope Benedict XVI into trouble with his provocative September speech about faith and violence that sparked anger throughout the Muslim world. But the papacy often requires old men to learn new tricks. And so on Tuesday, as he set off on the most delicate mission of his life, the 79-year-old Pontiff was showing a very different side, one that reflects a growing awareness of his new role.

In a rapid-fire, on-board encounter with reporters just before take-off, the Pope said his four-day trip to Ankara, Ephesus and Istanbul was aimed at "dialogue, brotherhood and reconciliation." He then heaped praise on Turkey, which he called a "bridge between cultures," and the Turks, whom he described as an open and peace-loving people. He also seemed to reverse his stance on Turkey's bid to join the European Union. Just two years ago, while Cardinal, he said the country's culture and history left it "in permanent contrast to Europe." On board his Alitalia flight, instead, he was pointing out that modern Turkey was founded on secular ideas of the French Constitution. Later in the day, Vatican officials in fact confirmed that the Holy See would favor Turkey's bid to eventually join the E.U. if it met all the necessary conditions.

Though Tuesday's tone will no doubt disappoint some of his ardent conservative fans, Benedict was never going to use his first visit to a predominantly Muslim country as a rhetorical Act II to the Regensburg speech. There, in the confines of a German university, he questioned Islam's compatibility with reason, he cited the Koran's references to jihad, and he quoted a Byzantine emperor's rude remarks about Muhammed. In Turkey, if nothing else, Benedict followed the old rule that visiting world leaders don't wag their finger at their host country.

Still, Benedict's two prepared remarks in the Turkish capital at first blush, at least seemed so careful as to make one wonder if the famous hard-liner was going soft. After years of quietly, and then not-so-quietly, differentiating his approach to interfaith relations from Pope John Paul II's, the German Pope was sounding a lot like his predecessor. During Benedict's speech alongside Turkey's head of religious affairs Ali Bardakoglu, the Pope cited "mutual respect and esteem," "human and spiritual unity" and the common heritage of Islam and Christianity as ancestors of Abraham. In marked contrast to the nasty historical quote he'd cited in Regensburg, the Pope referred to a warm 11th century meeting of Pope Gregory VII and a Muslim prince. Still smarting from Regensburg, Bardakoglu told the Pope: "The so-called conviction that the sword is used to expand Islam in the world and growing Islamophobia hurts all Muslims."

Later, in a speech to foreign diplomats in the Turkish capital, Benedict was beginning to sound not only like his predecessor but like himself. In the John Paul vein, he began a long reflection on war and violence by saying that "true peace needs justice, to correct the economic imbalances and political disturbances which always give rise to tension and threaten every society." This "root-cause" exploration of conflict is much different than Regensburg's search at the heart of religion for the source of violence. It is also a very different tone than his meeting with German Muslims last year in Cologne, where he implored them to help weed out terrorists from their communities without any mention of the difficulties facing those same immigrant communities.

Still, Benedict ultimately made clear that he will be tweaking, rather than changing, his fundamental message on inter-faith dialogue. In the speech to diplomats, he called out rather pointedly for religious freedom using the secular Muslim state of Turkey as an example. The following passage may well wind up being the strongest of the entire voyage: "The fact that the majority of the population of this country is Muslim is a significant element in the life of society, which the State cannot fail to take into account, yet the Turkish Constitution recognizes every citizen's right to freedom of worship and freedom of conscience. The civil authorities of every democratic country are duty bound to guarantee the effective freedom of all believers and to permit them to organize freely the life of their religious communities," the Pope said, reading his remarks in English and coughing occasionally at the end of a long day of encounters. He continued: "Religious liberty is a fundamental expression of human liberty and that the active presence of religion in society is a source of progress and enrichment for all. This assumes, of course, that religions do not seek to exercise direct political power, as that is not their province, and it also assumes that they utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence as a legitimate expression of religion."

So here, tucked inside a day otherwise focused on reconciliation, may be the first act in the "post-POST-Regensburg" phase of Benedict's papal diplomacy. How clearly can he draw the lines on the question of religious freedom? When will the "frank" public dialogue with Islam recommence? Can he lay out a new vision for a modern secular state in both the Western and Muslim worlds that gives due space to faith? And, perhaps just as importantly, can he keep the world's attention? The answers will depend on whether Benedict can strike the right balance between his newfound flexibility and an ancient, iron-clad faith.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Pope visits Turkey

We talked about the Pope's remarks about Islam a few months ago in a different thread.
Now the Pope has visited Turkey.
Is there a secret agenda?* Why is he in Istabul(Constantinople)?* Is he there to unite with the Patriarch of the Orthodox?* *Why now?
Time and history will tell, but it would be interesting to find out now!
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 11:05 AM
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Re: Pope visits Turkey

They got him wearing a bullet proof vest!

Turkey is in such turmoil that I would not be surprized if it falls apart.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 11:35 AM
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Re: Pope visits Turkey

Just something I have noticed. Before being selected as Pope, he was against Turkey being accepted to EU for the cultural and religious reasons. During this visit, he declared that he will support Turkey. Sounds like the visit benefited Turkey.
I am not sure the purpose of the meeting but it was a brave decision for him. Turkey has some fundamentalist Muslims that are still keeping grudge on him. I am glad that the trip is going fine. The protection was expected. I have heard that they closed all the major roads in Ankara, and the citizens had to deal with it until he left the city.
SpeedTrap , what did you mean by falling apart?

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 11:41 AM
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Re: Pope visits Turkey

Falling apart:

Country is trying to face to the east and west at same time.
Severe economic problems, very difficult EU entry, fundamentalists, Kurdish issue and Cyprus recognition.
The US holds a grudge against Turkey for not allowing base access to Iraq war.
There have been maps(NATO?) circulated where the show a divided Turkey.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 11:47 AM
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Re: Pope visits Turkey

It's true that the Country is having hard time. But because of the location, there has always been a east-west issue. But this is not a reason to have a country fall apart.
Can you post a link to one of those maps? I know that there are some sites for the Kurdish terrorist organization (PKK) that declare the eastern Turkey as Kurdistan. I would like to see the NATO version of these maps.


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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 12:12 PM
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Re: Pope visits Turkey

I believe this is the incident you are talking about:
-----------------
Secretary Rumsfeld: "Kurdistan" map incident unfortunate
Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul met yesterday in the Pentagon with US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. During talks with Gonul, Secretary Rumsfeld expressed sorrow for an incident earlier in the year when a US lieutenant giving a speech at NATO's Defense Training Center in Rome had used a map showing 18 cities in Turkey clearly marked inside an area labeled as "Kurdistan."



Minister Gonul was greeted by a military ceremony on his entrance to the Pentagon yesterday. After being welcomed by Secretary Rumsfelt, Gonul signed the official Pentagon guest book, after which Turkish and American delegations headed up by the two defense leaders started their talks.

Included in the American delegation was former US Ambassador to Ankara, Eric Edelman, who is currently the US Deputy Secretary of Defense. The matter of the map containing the reference to Kurdistan was brought up at the start of the talks by Rumsfeld, who called the incident "a unfortunate one." Rumsfelt did however assert to Gonul that the incident had no connection whatsoever with the Pentagon.

Gonul, following his meetings in Washington, is expected to go to Forth Worth, Texas, where he will examine facilities producing F-35 war planes.

Hurriyet
31 October 2006
http://www.turkishweekly.net/news.php?id=40543

And here is that Map I guess you were mentioning...
http://www.zaman.com/2006/09/29/harita_b.jpg

This is not a serious map, that will make people think that Turkey is in trouble, and may collapse.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 01:44 PM
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Re: Pope visits Turkey

I believe that was the map also, could not think of where I saw it.

NATO plays various war games where they do such things.
Maps that show what would happen "if".
Does not mean they will materialize. They have them for various regions in the world not just Turkey.
However, that said the formation of a Kurdish state is not out of the question.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 02:00 PM
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Re: Pope visits Turkey


I think the story behind that map was that it was part of an individual's study on how peace could be established in the middle east. It isn't supported by NATO as far as I know.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-29-2006, 09:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Pope visits Turkey

Apparently the Turks become enraged when the Patriarch is referred to as "ecumenical".* The Pope did just that when talking with the Patriarch.

*ecumenical (adj)-1. universal; worldwide* 2.* pertaining to, promoting, or fostering Christian unity throughout the world.


The City (Constantinople/Istanbul) has had a Christian population for thousands of years.* Many are have been oppressed and have left to Greece.* To this point their numbers are under 10,000 in a city of over 10 million.
This is another sticking point for E.U admission.
The Turks have shot down the Orthodox school for clergy in the City and have prohibited the Patriarch to call himself "ecumenical"

* The name Istanbul derives from the Byzantium's era word "to the city","to the Polis" or "eis tin poli" in Greek which was watered down by the Turks and finally called Istanbul.
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