Vatican announces details of pope's trip to Turkey

November 11, 2006 14:30

The Vatican on Saturday released details of Pope Benedict XVI's Nov. 28-Dec. 1 trip to Turkey, including a visit to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey and site of a recent demonstration against radical Islamic influences. The pilgrimage was born out of Benedict's desire to meet with the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who has his headquarters in Istanbul, once ancient Constantinople. The pope, who is trying to foster better relations between the Orthodox and Catholics, will have a private meeting with him on Nov. 29, the second day of the trip. Immediately after arriving in the early afternoon of Nov. 28 at the airport of Ankara, Turkey's capital, Benedict will visit Ataturk's mausoleum. Benedict will meet with Turkey's religious affairs minister, Ali Bardakoglu, who was among the first prominent Muslim figures, and one of the most vehement, to denounce Benedict for the speech. Benedict has since expressed regret that the remarks caused offense and has stressed they did not reflect his personal opinion. He has also expressed esteem for Islam.

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