Benedict XVI Hoping for Invitation From Turkey

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2005 ( The Holy See hopes to receive an invitation from the Turkish government so that Benedict XVI can visit the country that is home to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

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During a press conference today, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, confirmed the Pope’s intention to visit Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I.

«There’s an invitation from the patriarch; we lack the Turkish government’s authorization — we await it — but the Pope’s intention is to travel to Turkey,» said the cardinal in an aside during a presentation about an upcoming conference.

Cardinal Kasper also revealed that relations between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church «are improving, we are going on the right path.»

Patriarch Bartholomew I invited the Pontiff to visit Istanbul on Nov. 30, the feast of Saint Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Church of Constantinople.

The patriarch represents some 200 million faithful worldwide. Orthodox and Catholics have been separated since an 11th-century schism.

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