General Audience: On the Apostolic Visit to Turkey

«I thank God for the blessing of my recent pilgrimage to Turkey, and I pray that it will contribute to an ever more fruitful dialogue and relationship with our Orthodox and Muslim brothers and sisters.»

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Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis during his weekly General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square. Before his arrival, the Holy Father visited the sick who were watching the audience from the Paul VI Audience Hall due to the bad weather. The following are the Pope’s words to them:

Good morning!

Today you are here because the weather is a bit ugly, and inside here it doesn’t rain, Thank God. Then you can see the audience on the big screen. Thank you so much for your visit and I ask you to pray for me.

[The Pope approaches them and greets them]

Now you will stay here, follow the audience on the big screen, without the rain, here, calmly. Now we will pray to Our Lady to ask for Her blessing.

Hail Mary…


And let us prepare ourselves for Christmas, thinking of the coming of Jesus. I hope that Jesus comes to each of your hearts, and may He bless you and give you strength to go forward. Pray for me! Thank you!

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The following is the translation of the Pope’s catechesis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

It doesn’t look like a really good day, the weather is a bit ugly. But you are very brave to be here smiling on this rainy morning, and we go forward! This audience will take place in two difference places, as we do when it rains: here in the square and then there are the sick in Paul VI Hall. I have already met them, and greeted them. They are following the audience through the big screen because they are sick and cannot be under the rain. Let us greet them with an applause.

Today I would like to share with you some things on my pilgrimage last Friday to Sunday in Turkey. As I requested that it be prepared and supported by prayer, I now invite you to thank the Lord for its realization, in the hope that fruits of dialogue will flow be it in our relations with our Orthodox brothers, be it in those with Muslims, be it in the path to peace among peoples.

First of all, I would like to renew my expression of gratitude to the President of the Republic, to the Prime Minister, to the President for Religious Affairs and to the other Authorities who received me with respect and guaranteed the good order of the events. This requires a lot of work and they did so gladly.

I fraternally thank the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Turkey, the President of the Episcopal Conference, who is very good, for their commitment, as well as the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, for his cordial welcome. Blessed Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, who both went to Turkey, and Saint John XXIII, who was Papal Delegate in that Nation, protected my pilgrimage from Heaven, which took place eight years after that of my Predecessor Benedict XVI. That land is dear to every Christian, especially for having given birth to the Apostle Paul, for having hosted the first seven Councils, and for the presence, close to Ephesus, of “Mary’s house.” Tradition tells us that Our Lady lived there, after the coming of the Holy Spirit.

On the first day of my apostolic journey I greeted the Authorities of the country, the great majority Muslim, but whose Constitution affirms the secularism of the State. And with the authorities I spoke about violence. It is, in fact, it is forgetting God, and not His glorification, that generates violence. Therefore, I insisted on the importance that Christians and Muslims be committed together to solidarity, to peace and justice, affirming that every State must assure to its citizens and the religious communities of real freedom of worship.

Today before greeting the sick, I was with a group of Christians and Muslims who are at a meeting organized by the dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, under the guidance of Cardinal Tauran, and they also have expressed this desire to continue in this fraternal dialogue among Catholics, Christians and Muslims.

On the second day, I visited several places- symbol of the different religious faiths present in Turkey. I did so hearing in my heart the invocation of the Lord, God of Heaven and Earth, merciful Father of the whole of humanity. The center of the day was the Eucharistic Celebration, which gathered in the Cathedral pastors and faithful of different Catholic rites present in Turkey. We were also assisted by the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchal Vicar, the Syro-Orthodox Metropolitan and Protestant members. Together we invoked the Holy Spirit, He who brings about the unity of the Church: unity in faith, unity in charity, unity in interior cohesion. In the richness of their traditions and articulations, the People of God are called to allow themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, in a constant attitude of openness, of docility and of obedience. In our path of ecumenical dialogue and also in our unity, of our Catholic Church, it is the Holy Spirit that does everything. We are supposed to let Him do it, to receive and follow His inspirations.

The third and final day, the feast of Saint Andrew, offered the ideal context to consolidate fraternal relations between the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Church founded, according to tradition, by the Apostle Andrew, brother of Simon Peter. With His Holiness Bartholomew I, I renewed the mutual commitment to continue on the path towards the re-establishment of full communion between Catholics and Orthodox. Together we signed a Joint Declaration, a further step on this path. It was particularly significant that this act happened at the end of the solemn Liturgy of the Feast of Saint Andrew, which I attended with great joy, and which was followed by the double Blessing imparted by the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Bishop of Rome. Prayer, in fact, is the basis for all fruitful ecumenical dialogue under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who, as I said, is the one that makes unity.

The last meeting – which was both beautiful and painful – was with a group of refugee youth, guests of the Salesians. It was very important for me to meet with some refugees from the areas of war of the Middle East, be it to express to them my closeness and that of the Church, be it to stress the value of hospitality, in which Turkey is also very committed. I would like to thank Turkey once again for receiving so many refugees and I sincerely thank the Salesians of Istanbul. These Salesians work with refugees, they are wonderful. I also met with other priests, a German Jesuit and others who work with refugees. But that Salesian Oratory for refugees is something beautiful, it is a hidden work. I sincerely thank all those people who work with refugees. And we pray for all refugees and displaced persons, so that causes of this painful wound may be removed.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Almighty and Merciful God continue to protect the Turkish people, its rulers and representatives of the different religions. May they be able to build together a future of peace, so that Turkey is able to represent a place of peaceful coexistence between religions and different cultures. In addition we pray, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that the Holy Spirit will render this apostolic journey fruitful and foster in the Church missionary fervor to proclaim to all peoples, in respect and in fraternal dialogue, that the Lord Jesus is Truth, Peace and Love. He alone is Lord. Thank you.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

I thank God for the blessing of my recent pilgrimage to Turkey, and I pray that it will contribute to an ever more fruitful dialogue and relationship with our Orthodox and Muslim brothers and sisters. Turkey is a land dear to us for its rich Christian history. Religious belief has an important place in the life of this predominantly Muslim nation. In my visit to Ankara, I wished to stress the importance of ensuring its free exercise by all, and the need for Christians and
Muslims to work together in promoting solidarity, peace and justice. In Istanbul, at Mass with the Catholic faithful and the leaders of Turkey’s various Christian communities, we implored the Holy Spirit’s continued guidance and help for our efforts to grow in unity and fidelity. On Sunday, at the solemn liturgy for the feast of Saint Andrew, I joined Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in signing a Joint Declaration reaffirming our commitment to the restoration of full communion. I ask you to join me in praying for these intentions and for the Church’s zeal in proclaiming, in respectful and fraternal dialogue, Christ’s message of truth, peace and love.

Pope Francis (in Italian):

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including the various groups from England, Malaysia, Nigeria, Australia and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke joy and peace in the Lord Jesus. God bless you all!

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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I give a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet the Africa Mission Movement, accompanied by the Bishop of Piacenza-Bobbio, Monsignor Ambrosio, and by the Bishop of Moroto, Monsignor Guzzetti; the Rai Senior Group, the Rotary Club of Ancona and the community of Capodarco Father Gigi Movia. I greet the participants in the Family and Work Congress; the organizers of the itinerant Creche of Pavullo and the Network of the City of Pallio, as well as the grenadiers of Sardinia.

May the time that prepares us for Christmas foster in all a renewed commitment of adherence to Christ and of solidarity with our neediest brothers.

A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Patron of the Missions. Dear young people, in particular you students of Sogliano and of the Maestre Pie Filippini Institute of Nettuno, may his spiritual vigor stimulate you to take the faith seriously in your life; may his trust in Christ the Savior sustain you, dear sick, in the moments of greatest difficulty; may his apostolic dedication remind you, dear newlyweds, of the need for reciprocal self-giving in your conjugal relationship.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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