Skip to main content
U.S. Edition
Search
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WORLD

Turkey invites pope to visit

story.popewave.afp.jpg

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS

Turkey
Pope Benedict XVI
Europe
Islam

(CNN) -- Turkey has said it has invited Pope Benedict XVI to pay an official visit to the mainly Muslim country next year, according to the foreign ministry.

The ministry said Thursday it had extended an invitation to the pontiff for a visit in 2006, perhaps in an attempt to win his support for Turkey's bid for membership in the European Union.

Before becoming pope earlier this year, Benedict said he opposed Turkey's much-coveted goal of joining the European Union because Islam is a different culture from mainly Christian Europe.

Ankara is due to start EU accession talks on October 3.

Here is one comment from Ratzinger that has been distributed widely.

"The roots that have formed Europe, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe.

"There were the old Ottoman Empire wars against the Byzantine Empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. It would be an error to equate the two continents...Turkey is founded upon Islam ... Thus the entry of Turkey into the EU would be anti-historical."

Benedict would be the second pope to visit Turkey. His predecessor John Paul II visited in 1979, shortly after becoming pontiff.

The new pope is known to be keen to improve relations with the eastern churches.

Diplomats said Turkey feared Benedict could touch on politically sensitive issues during his visit, according to Reuters. These would include Ankara's treatment of its non-Muslim minorities and its continued refusal to open a Greek Orthodox seminary on an island near Istanbul.

By delaying the visit to 2006, Turkey has time to improve religious freedoms, they told the news agency.

Story Tools
Click Here to try 4 Free Trial Issues of Time! cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
CNN U.S.
CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNNAvantGo Ad Info About Us Preferences
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines