With anticipation verging on trepidation, the pope heads to Turkey





With a great deal of tension in the air and concerns for his safety — as well as the fear of repercussions against Turkey's small Catholic population — both the wisdom and the timing of the visit have been questioned. 

But with Germanic determination Benedict is marching resolutely into a potential lion’s den, armed with stated good intentions and positive messages but also carrying the liability of his penchant for using blunt language, a trait that has gotten him into trouble in the past.

There are deep roots to many of the elements that have some observers concerned about the trip.

Much of early Christianity was played out on Turkish soil. The Virgin Mary is believed to have lived out the rest of her life there after her son’s death, accompanied by the apostle Andrew. Saint Paul was based for many years in Turkey, from which he wrote his many letters of conversion, a major part of the New Testament. And it was the Emperor Constantine who would legitimize Christianity in the 4th century. Constantinople, the seat of his Byzantine Empire, is the city we now call Istanbul.


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