.- “In order to counter nationalist ambitions, Turkey must continue its journey towards a democratic process that will admit of pluralism and will acknowledge minorities. That’s the only way to show Europe that it is ready to join the Union,” said Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia.
In an interview with the Italian news agency SIR, Bishop Padovese said, “Turkey is a bridge between the Islamic world and the Western world and the events of recent months have sparked interest that was unheard of before: from the murder of Father Andrea Santoro to the visit of the Pope, and from the request (by Turkey) to join Europe to the death of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.”
Regarding Turkey’s entry into the EU, Bishop Padovese stressed that “the position of the Catholic bishops and non-Catholic bishops is a conditional yes. The European countries have great economic interests, but we believe that the cultural connection must be borne in mind: the issue of laicism and the acknowledgement of ethnic minorities cannot be pushed to the side.”
“The papal visit has positively changed the way Turks see the Church,” he said, adding that opinions have changed positively despite “the smear campaign against Benedict XVI and the Church, which began particularly after the speech at Regensburg,” and which he said was, “intense and profoundly affected public opinion.”