Pope prays for ‘peaceful coexistence’ in Turkey

Pope prays for ‘peaceful coexistence’ in Turkey

VATICAN CITY – Anadolu Agency
Pope prays for ‘peaceful coexistence’ in Turkey

In this photo taken on Nov. 30, provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets with refugee children in Istanbul. AP Photo

Speaking after his whirlwind recent visit to Turkey, Pope Francis said he prays for the country to build a place “of peaceful coexistence between different religions and cultures.”

“May God continue to protect the Turkish people, their authorities, its representatives in different faiths, so that together they can build a place of peace, of peaceful coexistence between different religions and cultures,” said the leader of the Catholic world, addressing pilgrims and the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly audience on Dec. 3.

Over the past weekend, the Pope paid a three-day visit to Turkey, during which he met top representatives of the Turkish government and religious leaders, with “interfaith dialogue” dominating the agenda.

During his visit, the pontiff issued a strong pledge of support for the embattled Christians of the Middle East and urged an end to the millenium-old schism between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

During his address in Vatican on Dec. 3, he reflected on his pastoral visit to Ankara and Istanbul, recalling that he had met with refugees from Syria and Iraq who were being cared for by Salesian priests, named after St. Francis de Sales, a 19th century bishop in Geneva.

“It was very important for me to meet refugees from the war zones of the Middle East, both to express the closeness of myself and the Church and to underline the value of welcoming people, which Turkey is very much involved in,” the Pope said.

“I thank Turkey again for this welcome, and I thank the Salesians of Istanbul who work with refugees … let us pray for all the refugees and exiles, and for the causes of this painful plague to be removed,” he added.