Pope’s trip to Turkey still on
Pope’s trip to Turkey still on

.- According to parties on both sides, Pope Benedict XVI’s November trip to Turkey will continue as planned, despite violent reactions on the part of many Muslims to a speech he made last week.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said yesterday that his government would not block the visit.  “As far as we are concerned, there are no changes to the program,” Turkish news service Hürriyet reported.

Gul said that the Pope’s words were “particularly unfortunate” during a period in which, “the United Nations and countries in general are working to create an atmosphere of better understanding between religions and cultures.”

The Pontiff made a speech in Germany last week, in which he spoke of fostering greater cultural and religious understanding and respect.  However, in the middle of his speech he quoted a 14th Century Byzantine emperor who said that violent Islam was “evil and inhuman.”  Despite clarifications by the Vatican and the Pope himself, insisting that people read his entire speech, most have only quoted the portion that seems to slight Islam and the prophet Mohammed.

The Vatican has not given any official indication that the trip is in question.  On Sunday Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, told the press that he hopes the trip will occur and that, “there is currently nothing that we can see which would prevent it."

However, according to Italian daily “Corriere della Sera” the schedule of the trip might be slightly adjusted.  The paper reports that a meeting between Pope Benedict and Ali Bardarkoglu, Turkey’s Religious Affairs Minister is in question.  Bardarkoglu has been one of the most vocal critics of Benedict’s words and was one of the first to demand an apology.

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