.- Speaking to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall today, Pope Benedict XVI recalled his recent apostolic trip to Turkey and explained how the visit served what he called the three “concentric circles” of his Pontifical mission.
“In the innermost circle,” the Holy Father explained, "Peter's Successor confirms Catholics in the faith, in the intermediate circle he meets other Christians, and in the outermost circle he addresses non-Christians and humanity entire."
“In the field of inter-religious dialogue,” the Pope continued, “an initially unplanned gesture, but one that revealed itself as particularly significant, was my visit to the famous Blue Mosque of Istanbul. Pausing in meditation for a few minutes in that place of prayer, I addressed myself to the One Lord of heaven and earth.”
Pope Benedict noted that his and Patriarch Bartholomew’s signing of a Joint Declaration was the ratification of a firm intention to take further steps in the direction of establishing full communion.
"Comforted by the Word of Christ," said Pope Benedict, "we lived a renewed experience of Pentecost."
In conclusion, the Holy Father called upon the Lord to help "the Turkish people, their leaders and the representatives of the various religions to build a future of peace together, so that Turkey may be a 'bridge' of friendship and fraternal collaboration between West and East."