Friday, November 28, 2014
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Vatican City, Nov 28, 2014 / 07:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis spoke to Turkish authorities on Friday of the need to create a lasting peace – one based on a fraternal solidarity which respects human dignity and man’s essential right to religious freedom.

“Fanaticism and fundamentalism, as well as irrational fears which foster misunderstanding and discrimination, need to be countered by the solidarity of all believers,” the Pope told Turkish authorities on Nov. 28.

This solidarity, he said, “must rest on the following pillars: respect for human life and for religious freedom, that is the freedom to worship and to live according to the moral teachings of one’s religion (and) commitment to ensuring what each person requires for a dignified life.”

Currently the people and states of the Middle East are in grave need of this solidarity, the Pope observed, which has the ability to “reverse the trend” of war and violence, and promote a path of peace, dialogue, lawfulness and justice.

Pope Francis’ address to Turkish authorities came as the first public speech of his Nov. 28-30 apostolic voyage to the country. After his arrival the pontiff visited the well-known Ataturk Mausoleum and paid a courtesy visit to the republic’s president.

In his opening remarks to the authorities, the Bishop of Rome drew attention to the rich historical significance the country holds for Christianity, which is something that extends to the present day.

He expressed his joy at following in the footsteps of his 3 predecessors who visited Turkey before him, the latest being Benedict XVI in 2006, and voiced his hope that the trip would continue the dialogue initiated and carried on by each of them.

What is needed today, the Pope said, “is a dialogue which can deepen the understanding and appreciation of the many things which we hold in common” and teach us to learn from our differences.

The patient advancement in building a peace that will last is also needed, and ought to be founded on a respect for the fundamental rights and dignity of man so that fears and prejudice may be overcome, the Roman Pontiff continued.

It is therefore essential, he said, “that all citizens – Muslim, Jewish and Christian – both in the provision and practice of the law, enjoy the same rights and respect the same duties.”

By assuring the same rights to all regardless of their faith, each practice can more easily go beyond misunderstandings and see one another as brothers and sisters traveling along the same path.

“Freedom of religion and freedom of expression, when truly guaranteed to each person, will help friendship to flourish and thus become an eloquent sign of peace,” he said, noting how the world, especially Europe and the Middle East, are waiting for this friendship.

The Middle East in particular has already been “a theater” of war for too long, the Pope observed, saying that with one war after the other, the only response to war and violence seem to be more acts of the same.
“How much longer must the Middle East suffer the consequences of this lack of peace? We must not resign ourselves to ongoing conflicts as if the situation can never change for the better! With the help of God, we can and we must renew the courage of peace!”

Pope Francis then urged Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he had met with shortly before, to make interreligious and intercultural dialogue an immediate goal so that terrorism, the exploitation of religion and every threat to human dignity would be eradicated.

“Sadly, to date, we are still witnessing grave conflict,” the pontiff noted, and spoke of the ongoing terrorist violence in Syria and Iraq, which shows “no signs of abating.”

Turkey, which has opened its doors to many refugees fleeing from the extremist attacks, is also greatly affected by the unrest at its boarders, he observed, and appealed the international community to fulfill their “moral obligation” in helping to care for all affected by the tragic situation.

In addition to offering assistance and humanitarian aid, the Roman Pontiff said that we cannot remain indifferent to the causes of such tragedies, and affirmed that “it is licit, while always respecting international law, to stop an unjust aggressor.”

However, the problem can’t be resolved solely by a military response, he said, and encouraged all to make great efforts in building a mutual trust which paves the way for a lasting peace.

The Pope concluded his address by invoking a heavenly blessing on Turkey, so that the nation would be “a strong and fervent peacemaker!”


Istanbul, Turkey, Nov 28, 2014 / 05:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A common declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew on the issues of ecology and poverty would be natural is foreseeable for the future, a theological advisor of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Costantinople told CNA Nov. 28.

“Today, there is no excuse for indifference or inaction. A joint response between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew can prove both powerful and permanent,” said Fr. John Chrissavgis, who works for the partriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Fr. Chrissavgis spoke on the eve of Pope Francis’ voyage to Turkey, scheduled Nov. 28-30.

During Pope Francis' Nov. 28-30 trip to Turkey, he will meet with Patriarch Bartholomew for an ecumenical prayer on Saturday night at the Phanar, the Headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul.

According to Fr. Chrissavgis, there are thre three main challenges that both the Papacy and the Ecumenical Patriarchate can face together.

First, both should foster “a sense of humility and repentance for the arrogant suspicion and hostile polemics of the past. We should no longer be tempted by isolationism and fanaticism that characterized relations between the two Churches in previous centuries.”

Second, “we should honestly examine the theological differences that continue to separate us, especially the issue of authority and primacy, as well as infallibility and collegiality. Pope Francis has already demonstrated his willingness and openness to explore the common tradition of the early, undivided Church on these matters.”

And finally – Fr. Chrissavgis maintained – “even as we discuss doctrinal matters, we should not ignore the global problems facing people everywhere, including poverty, war, injustice, and the ecological crisis.”

Pope Francis has proven to be very attentive to ecological matters: he already announced he will issue an encyclical on ecology by the beginning of the next year, and often mentioned the notion of human ecology in his speeches – the last time Nov. 25, speaking in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“The Pope’s love of the poor and vulnerable in society makes him equally sensitive to the natural environment,” said Fr. Chrissavgis.

On the other hand, Patriarch Bartholomew has “worked tirelessly for the awakening of people’s conscience about climate change. Hence the title that he has been given by journalists: ‘the Green Patriarch.”

Fr. Chrissavgis noted that “it is true that natural and human ecology are inseparably linked. The way we treat people, and especially the poor, is directly reflected in the way we respond to environmental issues; and the way we respect God’s creation is manifested in our attitude toward human beings created in the image of God. Indeed, both visionary leaders can discern this truth.”

“It would be wonderful – and natural – for the Pope and the Patriarch to stand together on this issue and sign a common declaration, just as Patriarch Bartholomew co-signed the Venice Declaration with Pope John Paul II in 2002. I can certainly foresee this happening in the near future.”


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