Gestures of Goodwill from the Pope in Izmir

After finishing his visits in Ankara yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Virgin Mary's house in Ephesus, which is considered sacred by Christians, and presided over mass in Izmir.

Gestures of Goodwill from the Pope in Izmir

The pope began and ended his 1,5 hour homily at the scared site in Turkish, and waved the Turkish flag given to him at the end the mass.

Upon his arrival in Ankara, the pope had hinted that the Vatican supported Turkey's membership to the European Union, and such gestures of goodwill continued during the mass.

He began and ended his sermon in Turkish, saying, "My dear brothers and sisters, may God be with you," and he also expressed his fondness for Turks. Also saying, "It is important to live together in peace and well-being in these lands, which are a bridge between continents." When the mass ended, he greeted at length those who were cheering him while waving the Turkish flag. The mass held at the Church of Virgin Mary was broadcast live in 67 countries.

The program in the district of Seljuk wrapped up without incident, with the exception of a woman named Zeynep Aykut, the sister of Hakan Ekinci, a Turkish man who hijacked a flight from Albania to Italy, who attempted to give a letter to the pope.

The pope, traveling to Izmir yesterday from Ankara, was welcomed at the airport by Izmir Governor Oguz Kaan Koksal, Lieutenant General Yalcin Kaya, Mayor Aziz Kocaoglu and Izmir Police Chief Aziz Kocaoglu. He rested for a while in the VIP lodge and drank tea before moving on to Seljuk in an armored convoy provided by Turkey.

Prior to the beginning of the mass, the pope made a pilgrimage to the house of Virgin Mary, where he offered a prayer. In his speech after the 1,5-hour long mass held in a special place next to Virgin Mary's house, he noted that the site was of high importance to Christianity. He recalled that Pope Paul VI and Pope Jean Paul II visited Turkey before him, and Pope Johanna XXIII worked in Turkey as the representative of the papacy between January 1935 and December 1944 before being elected pope. Benedict XVI quoted Johanna XXIII as saying, "I love Turks and appreciate their natural characteristics."

Also extending his heartfelt thanks to those who came from all over the world to attend the mass held at the Virgin Mary's house, the pope also addressed Christians living in the district and said, "Oh, little herd of Jesus! I thank you for your existence in these holy lands."

In his brief speech following the mass, which emphasized the need for mutual understanding, disarmament and a global peace in the world, the pope stressed that the desire for union and agreement among Christians had begun to come to the fore, especially the need to put the principle of global well-being into practice.

"It is important to be unified," the pope said as he finished his Italian speech.

His last sentence, in Turkish, was: "Aziz Meryem, bizim için dua et!" (Blessed Mary, pray for us!).

The mass continued with Turkish, Italian, German, French and Latin hymns in the garden adorned with yellow and white ribbons, the colors of the Vatican, and ornamented with flowers.

Those in attendance prayed for lasting peace and that international institutions and associations be just and compassionate. The Blessed Virgin Mary's venerated status in Islam was extolled as the crowd prayed for Muslims as well. At the end of the mass, the pope greeted each priest present and gave them each a small gift as a memento of the day.

Benedict XVI Prays With Orthodox Patriarchate

After celebrating mass at the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Pope Benedict XVI traveled to Istanbul and joined a 'prayer of thanks' with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos, who never meets his guests outside of the Patriarchate, made an exception and met the pontiff at the airport.

Certain diplomats in Istanbul as well as nearly 500 people from the Orthodox and Catholic community took part in the prayer at the church of Aya Yorgi (St. George).

Bartholomeos, who normally sits in his own chair, sat at the same level as the pontiff this time.

Following prayers, the pontiff and Bartholomeos held a 35-minute talk. The Vatican has said that the pope's visit was meant to work towards reconciliation between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Pope's Support for EU in Headlines

The world's eyes were on Turkey as Pope Benedict XVI began his historic visit to Turkey.

The international press, in the headlines, focused on Benedict XVI's support to Turkey's EU bid, and on Bardakoglu's, the Turkish religious Affairs Directorate Head, reply to the pontiff's insulting speech against Islam in Germany.

The Guardian wrote, "Pope refuses to apologize but tries to build bridges," and called the pontiff's support for Turkey's EU bid an "apparent U-turn in the Vatican position."

The Daily Telegraph wrote that Bardakoglu, "in a clear reference" to the Pope's speech in Germany, said that Muslims universally rejected accusations that Islam, "was spread by the sword."

The newspaper commented that Bardakoglu's speech was a bit of a reprimand to the pontiff with these words.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16