Pope Francis Visits Turkey, Calls on Faiths to Oppose Fanaticism

World | November 28, 2014, Friday // 20:27|  views

Pope Francis (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shake hands after a press conference following their meeting at the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey, 28 November 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES

Pope Francis on Friday called for interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance and urged more help for refugees from Syria and Iraq.

In a speech in Ankara the pontiff also called for renewed efforts to bring peace to the Middle East, which “for too long has been a theatre of fratricidal wars”.

Speaking alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a rare papal visit to Turkey, Pope Francis called on people of all faiths to show respect for human life, dignity and religious freedom.

Erdogan said the visit was a ‘significant’ step to enhance regional peace.

The three-day visit, which started on Friday, comes as Turkey hosts 1.6 million refugees, most of them Muslim, who have fled persecution by Islamic State militants in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

Referring to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics said the international community had a moral obligation to help Turkey take care of refugees.

Franis' trip - only the fourth visit by a pontiff to majority Muslim Turkey – is seen as a special effort to foster ties with Islam and build bridges with the Muslim world. Turkey is the third majority Muslim nation Francis has visited out of his six trips abroad as Pope.

Another important aspect of the visit will be the opportunity to consolidate the Vatican’s relations with Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians.

Bartholomew I attended Francis’s investiture last year, the first ecumenical patriarch to attend such a ceremony in Rome since the two Christian churches split nearly 10 centuries ago.

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Tags: Pope Francis, Bartholomew, Erdogan, Vatican, Erdogan, refugees, Muslim, Islam, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians


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