Saturday, December 2
"The Congenial Pope"
With almost palpable annoyance, BBC concedes the Pope's trip to Turkey has been quite successful, though hides that news under a very banal headline:
Turkey's liberal newspaper Milliyet called it "The Istanbul Peace", while Vatan declared: "History Written in Istanbul."
Hurriyet, one of Turkey's most influential papers, called Benedict "the congenial pope".
The 79-year-old pontiff had paused during his tour of the famous mosque on Thursday, standing alongside the mufti of Istanbul, facing Mecca and adopting an attitude of Muslim prayer known as "the posture of tranquillity".
"It was something beautiful," said the mufti, Mustafa Cagrici.
The Pope also made a conciliatory gesture to Turkey by expressing support for its membership of the EU, reversing the opposition he voiced as a senior cardinal, when he said it would be "a grave error".
However he implied that respecting freedom of worship should be a condition for Turkey's entry.
No mention of WHY the Pontiff should mention religious freedom in Turkey, that is, no mention of the crippling oppression in which the Orthodox patriarchate dwells. But, then again, the BBC isn't run by nice people, anyway.
I think the trip was a success.
(1) The Pope survived, which honestly the whole world was nervous about--not without reason, considering this book was a best-seller prior to his arrival.
(2) The world knows, via the most successful PR compaign possible (if still not as successful as desirable), that life sucks for Turkish Christians and that the Patriarch has had his seminary close and his buildings confiscated.
(3) What no one really considered possible, that the Pope would get any positive Turkish press, has proved the case: at least among non-radical Muslims, he made a very favorable impression, without compromising what he believes: he advocated EU entrance "in accord with European values," which every paper knew meant religious freedom, but the most impressive thing he did was something which a religious leader does at all times and in all places: he prayed.
Well, praise God. Viva il papa!