ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome  

Pope to Dialogue in Turkey, Says Bishop
Especially With Muslims and Orthodox

ROME, OCT. 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's forthcoming trip to Turkey will be a moment to engage in dialogue, especially with Muslims and Orthodox Christians, says the apostolic vicar of Anatolia.

"The Pope is not coming to missionize, as the Turkish press claims, but to speak with Muslims, the Turkish government, and obviously with Catholics, but especially with Orthodox Christians," Bishop Luigi Padovese said at a press conference in Berlin, organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Bishop Padovese also said that the Pope's Regensburg address was an appeal for dialogue among religions.

In its own statement, ACN said that it hopes that the trip, which comes as Turkey is seeking entry into the European Union, will open the way for "religious liberty of a European standard" in the country, including the "legal recognition of the Christian Churches."

According to the charity, "the Church is not permitted to build churches and other constructions since the restrictive law of 1923," and foreign priests often have trouble acquiring residence permits.

"The killing of Don Andrea Santoro, last February, testifies to the open or hidden attacks on priests. Furthermore, future priests have no seminary in the country," added the charity.

The Apostolic Vicariate in Anatolia serves half of the territory of Turkey, which has 5,000 Catholics.

Out of a population of 63.5 million, there are 200,000 Christians in the country. In 1914 the population was 30% Christian.