Bishops say Catholics anxiously awaiting papal visit to Turkey

.- “The Church in Turkey awaits the encounter with Benedict XVI.  We are preparing for the celebration in December, when the Pontiff will meet with the Catholic faithful and their pastors at the Cathedral of Istanbul,” said Father Georges Marovitch, the official spokesman of the Bishops’ Conference of Turkey.

Father Marovitch said hundreds are requesting to attend the liturgy but “space is limited.” “Therefore we have decided to set up a huge television screen in the Church of San Antonio so that everyone can follow the celebration.”

According to the Italian news agency SIR, Father Marovitch also explained that after the Pope’s speech in Ratisbona, “the Turkish newspapers wrote that the President of Turkey would not meet with the Pope, but rather another government official would take his place.  At that time we were surprised, but later the news was clarified.  President Necdet Sezer will receive the Holy Father without his Prime Minister, Erdogan, who will be in Riga for the NATO summit.”

Turkish Catholics are also excitedly anticipating for the meeting between the Holy Father and the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I.  “Nothing has been leaked about the joint declaration they will sign.  I think it will be a surprise,” Father Marovitch.

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