Pope Francis has said Turkey has a “great responsibility” in today’s world because of its location next to the war-stricken countries of the Middle East and its role as a bridge between East and West.
He lamented the “fratricidal wars”, “terrorist violence” and “grave persecutions” that plagued the region. “How much longer must the Middle East suffer the consequences of this lack of peace? We must not resign ourselves to ongoing conflicts as if the situation can never change for the better,” the Pope said.
But he praised Turkey for “generously” welcoming refugees and said the problems could not be solved by a military response alone.
Speaking to Turkey’s leaders at the presidential palace in Ankara, the Pope said: “What is required is a concerted commitment on the part of all, based on mutual trust, which can pave the way to lasting peace, and enable resources to be directed, not to weaponry, but to the other noble battles worthy of man: the fight against hunger and sickness, the promotion of sustainable development and the protection of creation, and the relief of the many forms of poverty and marginalisation of which there is no shortage in the world today.
“Turkey, by virtue of its history, geographical position and regional influence, has a great responsibility: the choices which Turkey makes and its example are especially significant and can be of considerable help in promoting an encounter of civilizations and in identifying viable paths of peace and authentic progress.”
In his address the Pope said Turkey was “precious to every Christian” for its role in Church history, noting that it was the birthplace of St Paul, that it hosted early Councils and, according to tradition, has within its borders the home of the Virgin Mary.
The Pope touched down at Ankara airport at 11am UK time before visiting the mausoleum of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He was then welcomed at the country’s new presidential palace, built at a reported cost of $350m (£220m), by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Source and Original Content by Catholic Herald
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