ISTANBUL (AFP) - Pope Benedict
XVI brings his eventful trip to Turkey, his first to a Muslim land, to a
conclusion by celebrating mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Istanbul's
main Catholic parish.
Benedict XVI's eventful Turkish trip draws to a close
Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of the Istanbul-based Orthodox Church,
will be among the hand-picked congregation for the second mass the pope will
have celebrated during his four-day stay.
The urban, downtown Istanbul setting of Friday's mass will be far different
than that of his first mass in the country, at a leafy hill-top shrine near
the antique Greek city of Ephesus, where Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ,
is said to have spent the last years of her life.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church on Thursday attended a liturgy alongside
Bartholomew I at the Orthodox Patriarchate at Phanar; his meetings with the
head of the Orthodox Church were the main reasons for Benedict XVI's trip.
Both men have put high on their respective agendas efforts to heal the nearly
thousand-year-old schism between the Eastern and Western rites of Christianity,
which Benedict XVI described as a "scandal to the world."
But both sides agree much remains to be done, and in a speech after Thursday's
mass, the pope remained steadfast on one major point of disagreement -- papal
authority -- when he stressed the
Vatican's "universal" role.
The pope also called for a renewal of "Europe's awareness of its Christian
roots, traditions and values," possibly giving pause to his Muslim Turkish
hosts who are making a troubled bid to join the
On the busiest day of his trip Thursday, and just 10 weeks after outraging
Muslims with remarks in which he appeared to link Islam to violence, he made
a stunning conciliatory gesture, turning toward Mecca and assuming an attitude
of Muslim prayer during a visit to Istanbul's Blue Mosque.
The gesture sparked a "did he or didn't he" polemic, the Vatican insisting
that the pope had only meditated, while the Turkish media said there was
no doubt he had prayed.
The pope is scheduled to leave Turkey at 1:15 pm (1115 GMT) Friday.