Catholic World News News Feature
Confirmed: Pope to visit Turkey in November February 09, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Turkey at the end of November 2006, the Vatican has confirmed.
In a short announcement released on February 9, the Vatican press office said that Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer had issued a formal invitation, which the Pontiff had accepted. The dates for the trip are set for November 28 to 30.
As CWN reported on January 30, Turkish government authorities and informed Vatican officials had earlier confirmed that the visit would take place in November, but the dates had not yet been fixed.
The Pope's visit will coincide with the feast of St. Andrew, the patron of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, on November 30. Shortly after Pope Benedict's election, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I had invited the Pope to join him for the celebration of that feast day. The Pontiff had accepted the invitation, but his wish to make the trip in 2005 was thwarted by the Turkish government's reluctance to issue a quick invitation. Later-- having signaled its annoyance with the Orthodox leader for issuing an invitation without prior consultation, and perhaps also its displeasure with remarks that the Pontiff had made criticizing Turkey's bid for entry into the European Union-- the Ankara regime suggested that Pope Benedict would be welcome to visit in 2006. The official announcement of the papal trip comes just as Church officials are still mourning the death of Father Andrea Santoro, an Italian missionary priest who was killed in Turkey on February 5, apparently by an Islamic fanatic. The slain priest had only recently written to Pope Benedict, asking the Holy Father to visit his little parish in the Black Sea port town of Trabzon, during his stay in Turkey.