.- The spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of Turkey, Msgr. Georges Marovitch, said Turks have been surprised by the Holy Father’s visit to their country.
In comments to the SIR news agency, Msgr. Marovitch said on the streets of Istanbul he is hearing encouraging comments such as, “They should let him (the Pope) come every year,” and “He is not an enemy of Islam, he’s welcome here.”
The bishops’ spokesman added that people seem to be “happy that the Pope is in their country.” “Many Muslim friends have confirmed this. They have not stood in the way of such a beloved Pontiff, who has every desire to identify with the Turkish reality. His meetings with the Prime Minister Erdogan, with President Sezer and with the Minister of Religious Affairs, Bardakoglu, marked a crucial point in his trip, relaxing the tensions of past days.”
Not even the threats of Al Qaeda “have dampened the optimism of the Pope,” Msgr. Marovitch stated, adding that “after his first encounter with Bartholomew I, he looked happy and satisfied. The climate is relaxed and we can hope it remains so even after his departure, especially regarding our minority Christian and Catholic communities, that will be encouraged and reaffirmed to continue ahead after this visit.”