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Turkey Will Receive Pope Only as Visiting Head of State

Oct. 19 (AsiaNews) – The Turkish government will recognize Pope Benedict XVI (bionews) only as a head of state when he visits that country in November, the AsiaNews service reports.

The Turkish daily Hurriyet said that the papal visit would not be recognized as a religious mission, since the Pontiff was invited by . The government is thus ignoring the previous invitation issued to the Pontiff by the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I.

Turkish President Ahmet Necedet Sezer (picture copyright Wikipedia)Hurriyet said that the government’s position could cause a “diplomatic crisis” if the Vatican refused to accept the designation of the Pope’s voyage as a visit by a head of state. As AsiaNews noted, that concern “does not seem to have any substance in reality,” since the Vatican has accepted other papal trips that have been classified as visits by a head of state, and since the Vatican has already made the official announcement of the Pope’s trip.

However, the story does underline the coolness of the Ankara government toward the Pope’s arrival. In another display of the same reserved attitude, the Turkish government has announced that President Sezer will not meet the Pontiff’s plane when it arrives in Turkey. Instead the president will receive the Pope in a courtesy call later that day.


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