Istanbul’s Catholic community awaits Pope Francis’ visit
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
The pope will hold a Holy Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul. AA PhotoCatholic clergy gathered in central Istanbul on Nov. 24 ahead of Pope Francis’ scheduled visit to Turkey this week.
Speaking at the gathering Istanbul Latin Catholic Church Bishop Monsignor Louis Pelatre stated that the pope's Nov. 28-30 visit will only include the cities of Ankara and Istanbul and he would not be visiting İzmir, as previously reported.
“Although the media has said that the Pope will visit the House of the Virgin Mary in İzmir, it will not happen. Pope Francis will only visit Ankara and Istanbul,” Monsignor Pelatre said.
The House of the Virgin Mary in Selçuk, located in the western province of İzmir, has been visited by three previous popes – Pope Paul VI in 1967, Pope John Paul II in 1976 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
Pope Francis will be the fourth pope to visit Turkey. He is scheduled to touch down at 1 p.m. local time (10:00 GMT) on Nov. 28 in Ankara, and to leave at 4:45 p.m. (13:45 GMT) on Nov. 30 from Istanbul.
His visit will help to improve dialogue between Turkey and the Vatican, Bishop Pelatre said. “Pope Francis chose to land first in Ankara, which means he wishes to strengthen the relations between the two states,” he added.
During his three-day visit, the spiritual leader of the world’s 1 billion Catholics will meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkey’s top Muslim cleric, Mehmet Görmez.
The Supreme Pontiff will hold a Holy Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul and privately meet Istanbul-based Greek Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox churches.
He is also expected to visit the mausoleum of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Ankara, the Hagia Sofia museum in Istanbul, and the Sultan Ahmet (Blue) Mosque in Istanbul.
His visit will come three days after he addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg.