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Benedict XVI Tells of Esteem for Turkish People

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2006 (Zenit.org).- On the eve of his trip to Turkey, Benedict XVI expressed his "esteem and sincere friendship" to the "beloved Turkish people."

After praying the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered today in St. Peter's Square, the Pope sent "a cordial greeting to the beloved Turkish people, of great historical and cultural richness."

"I express sentiments of esteem and sincere friendship to this nation and its representatives," added the Holy Father, who will visit Ankara, Ephesus, Izmir and Istanbul, on his trip this Tuesday to Friday.

Benedict XVI expressed his "heartfelt emotion" as he looks forward to meeting with "the Catholic community, which is always present in my heart," and to uniting himself "fraternally to the Orthodox Church, on the occasion of the feast of the Apostle St. Andrew."

He added: "With confidence, I wish to follow in the footsteps of my venerated predecessors, Paul VI and John XXIII, and I invoke the heavenly protection of Blessed John XXIII, who for 10 years was apostolic delegate in Turkey and felt great affection and esteem for that nation.

"I ask all of you to accompany me with prayer so that this pilgrimage may bring all the fruits willed be God."