VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI has asked the Government of Turkey to grant full legal recognition to the Catholic Church and to establish a formal dialogue with the nation’s Catholic bishops to work out concrete problems.
Welcoming Muammer Dogan Akdur as Turkey’s new ambassador to the Vatican on January 19, the Pope said that while Turkish Catholics enjoy religious freedom in the country the Church as a whole would like to have a recognised juridical status under Turkish law.
Much of Pope Benedict’s speech to the ambassador and the ambassador’s speech to the Pope focused on the success of the Pope’s November 28-December 1 visit to Turkey and on Catholic-Muslim relations.
The Pope said the trip gave him an opportunity to demonstrate “the respect of the Catholic Church for Islam and the esteem of the Pope and the faithful for Muslim believers”.
The ambassador thanked the Pope for his visit to Turkey, calling it a “historic step” not only in relations between the Vatican and Turkey, but also in Catholic-Muslim relations, because it gave “the whole world an exemplary image of mutual understanding and spiritual convergence”.