Pope Francis in Turkey
November 28, 2014
On the first day of his apostolic trip to Turkey, Pope Francis said religious leaders are bound to renounce violence in the name of religion. He also appealed for more international assistance for the thousands of refugees from nearby Iraq and Syria, who have taken refuge in Turkey.
Shortly after his arrival in Ankara Friday for a three day pastoral visit to Turkey, Pope Francis visited the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first President of the modern-day Republic of Turkey.
The Pope was greeted by the Commander of the Guards, laid a wreath of flowers and paused for a few moments of silence. Pope Francis was then accompanied to the Tower of “National Pact” at the entry to the Anitkabir Atatürk Museum which exhibits the founder of the Turkish Republic's personal items, wardrobe, and a number of the gifts presented to him. There, the Holy Father signed The “Gold Book”, with the following inscription:
"May the Almighty grant peace and prosperity to the dear Turkish people, with the wish that the entire Country may increasingly become a place of peaceful coexistence between cultures and civilizations, where every human person feels welcomed and his or her dignity and free expression of faith is safeguarded."
On Saturday, the Pope will travel to Istanbul, where he is expected to visit several historic sites, including Santa Sofia, a former basilica, which had been converted into a mosque in the 15th century and is now a museum. He is then expected to visit one of Istanbul’s most important mosques, the Sultan Ahmet, also known as the “Blue Mosque”. He is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Catholic Holy Spirit Cathedral in the afternoon.
The evening is to include ecumenical prayer at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St George, followed by a private meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.