Pope Benedict invites Bardakoglu to Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI has invited Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate Prof Ali Bardakoglu to Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI paid a four-day visit Turkey starting on Nov. 28 of last year.

Pope Benedict invites Bardakoglu to Vatican

Pope BenedictXVI has invited Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate Prof Ali Bardakoglu to Vatican. PopeBenedict XVI paid a four-day visit Turkey starting on Nov. 28 of lastyear.

In a high-profile move, Pope Benedict XVI has invited Professor AliBardakoðlu, who heads the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate, to the Vatican.

In a written invitation sent to the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate itwas stated that the Vaticanwould be honored to host Bardakoðlu in the Vatican.

Upon the directorate's acceptance of the pope's invitation, a papalrepresentative will come to Turkeyto finalize details of the visit.

Invited by Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the pope paid a four-dayvisit to Turkeystarting on Nov. 28 of last year.

A harsh opponent of the Turkish EU bid before his ascent to the papacy andwreathed in controversy after a speech -- quoting a 14th century Byzantineemperor who described Islam as a religion of violence -- he delivered inRegensburg University in Germany sparked worldwide protests from Muslims, thepope managed to use the visit to Turkey to send the right signals to the Muslimworld.

Bardakoðlu has confirmed his receipt of the invitation, saying: "Thisis possible. We will decide depending on the circumstances."

With respect to the fact that the Vaticanhas considered their invitation to be a "continuation of the talks in Turkey,"Bardakoðlu said: "We are open to dialogue. We will meet in an atmosphereof dialogue as long as we remain as we are and the other side remains as theyare. This is how we see dialogue."

A deputy head of the directorate will meet the cardinal sent by the Vatican to finalizethe details of Bardakoðlu's visit.


The cardinal, effectively an aide in charge of foreign affairs, and thedeputy head will reportedly meet in Ankarato finalize the timetable of Bardakoðlu's visit and meeting.

The senior bureaucrat expected to conduct the talks has also commented onthe matter: "Yes, it is true. The Vatican has invited our head(Bardakoðlu). They are inviting him as a continuation of the talks here. As wehave accepted the invitation, a papal aide will come here to discuss thedetails of the visit."

 Bardakoðlu had previously spoken to Today's Zaman, giving hisassessment of the pope's visit to Turkey, saying: "These visitsare neither the first nor the last. Every week, we receive new guests. What weattempt to do is express ourselves fully."

Noting that the Religious Affairs Directorate was the focus of increasedinterest, Bardakoðlu maintained that such interest stemmed from a desire"to make sense of the Turkish case."

 He added: "What is the meaning of such a religious institutionwithin the secular structure? How does this system operate? They are seekinganswers to these questions. We tell them what they want to know, withself-confidence and an easy conscience. We make our contribution whennecessary. We express our opinions about other people or institutions. In ouropinion, meeting with other people will help us to better express ourselves andto get to know other people."

 He explained: "Naturally we are not against dialogue. We willmeet in an atmosphere of dialogue as long as we remain as we are, and the otherside remains as they are. This is how we see dialogue."

Pope Benedict's visit to Turkeywas his first to a Muslim country and the first meeting with Bardakoðlu wasconducted in a rather tense atmosphere due to the then-recent Regensburg speech.

The pope listened attentively to the criticisms Bardakoðlu directed againsthim, but did not respond.

Bardakoðlu had said: "We seriously need self-sacrificial efforts fromclerics. Religious leaders must not attempt to spread their respective faithsand deny other faiths using the media. Instead they should try to findsolutions to common problems of humanity. Our faith condemns all kinds ofterror and violence and equates killing an individual to the killing of humanityentirely.

"We feel sadness at the statements which have nourished Islamophobia,arguing that Islam has spread through war or that Islam has been stokingviolence. We must save ourselves from historic fears and concerns."

One of the enduring images of the pope's visit was that of him waving aTurkish flag handed to him on a visit to the Churchof Mary in Ephesus.

 Pope Benedict also stated that his visit to sites in Istanbul had greatly affected him.

 Historic meeting

There have been three papal visits to Turkeyin the past, but the Religious Affairs Directorate has yet to visit the Vatican.In this respect Bardakoðlu's visit has a symbolic significance for both Turkey and theMuslim word.

The directorate has also taken the papal invitation as an indication of thefact that the pope was influenced by Bardakoðlu's ideas. It is said that thepope was happy to visit Turkeyand he invited Bardakoðlu as a consequence of his satisfaction with this visit.

 Bardakoðlu was commended by many groups for the attitude he adoptedduring the pope's visit. Even Republican People's Party (CHP) leader DenizBaykal paid a visit to Bardakoðlu's office to express his commendation of thevisit.

Today's Zaman


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16