Vatican Awaiting Possible Invitation From Turkey

LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 18, 2005 ( Benedict XVI has yet to receive an invitation from the Turkish government to be able to visit that country, says Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.

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Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, invited the Pope on June 29 to visit his see, which is in modern-day Istanbul.

From Les Combes, where the Pope is spending his holidays, Navarro Valls told the RAI news program Sunday that the Turkish government has not echoed the Orthodox proposal.

The custom is to schedule a trip “after the Pope has received the double invitation,” from the religious and state authorities, the Vatican spokesman said.

Thus the invitation is up to the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Orthodox Church hopes the Holy Father will visit its see Nov. 30, the feast day of its patron, St. Andrew.

The visit would be of particular importance for ecumenism, a key priority of Benedict XVI’s, since traditionally the patriarch of Constantinople is considered “first among equals” among the Orthodox Churches.

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