The official Vatican daily “L’Osservatore Romano” has reported that the bishops of Turkey have decided to move up the beginning of the Pauline Year in that country to June 22.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, will celebrate a Mass on that day, and symposium on the writings of St. Paul as well as a national pilgrimage to Tarsus, Antioquia and Ephesus will take place until June 24.
In order to welcome visitors, the Church in Turkey has asked the government for permission to celebrate Mass and prayer services at the ancient Church of St. Paul in Tarsus, which today is a museum.
“Antioquia is the city that saw the birth of the first Christian communities,” the LOR report continued. “Here for the first time in history, the disciples of Christ were called Christians. And in the same place where the first disciples of Christ met to pray, there is today a small Christian community made up of a dozen Catholic families and a considerable number of Arab-speaking Greek Orthodox Christians, who meet to share their faith and to grow spiritually.”
Msgr. Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, told the LOR, “We bishops think there are elements in the letters of the apostle that could be particularly useful for our communities that live as a religious minority.”
“A situation exists similar to that of the first communities of the diaspora, which makes us more conscious of our identity,” he said.