Pope Appeals for Church's Legal Status in Turkey
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has asked the Turkish
government to grant religious freedom to all believers, and to legally recognize
the Catholic Church.
The Holy Father made these comments today in an address to Muammer Dogan
Akdur, the new ambassador of Turkey to the Holy See, when the latter presented
his letters of credence.
"Enjoying the religious liberty guaranteed to all believers by the Turkish
Constitution, the Catholic Church wishes to benefit from a juridically recognized
status," the Pope said in his address to Akdur, who until now was ambassador
According to Bishop Ruggero Franceschini, president of the episcopal conference
of Turkey, juridical recognition of the Church has yet to take place in that
Benedict XVI called for "the creation of an agency of official dialogue between
the bishops' conference and state authorities to address the different issues
that might arise and continue the good relations between the two parties."
Through Ankara's representative in the Vatican, the Pope greeted Turkey's
authorities, particularly President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.
"I have no doubts that your government will do everything possible to go
forward in this respect," said the Holy Father.
The vast majority of Turkey's 69 million inhabitants are Muslims. Catholics
number about 35,000.