President Erdoğan extends Christmas greetings to Christians of Turkey

President Erdoğan extends Christmas greetings to Christians of Turkey

President Erdoğan extends Christmas greetings to Christians of Turkey

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan extended his Christmas greetings to the Turkish citizens of the Christian faith through a written statement on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.

“I would like to congratulate once again Christmas Day of all of the Christian world, and particularly our Christian citizens, and I wish them peace, happiness and welfare,” read Erdoğan’s statement.

Stating that people who fled wars, oppression and suffering found shelter in Turkey, Erdoğan said “Turkey still continues to be a place where all of its citizens, regardless of their religion, faith, ethnic origin or sect live in peace, serenity and security, confident of their future amid regional conflicts and instabilities.”

Meanwhile, the holy leader of the Catholic Church Pope Francis delivered a letter to the Christians in the Middle East on Dec. 21, saying that he personally and the whole church express their “personal closeness and solidarity … and offer you a word of consolation and hope.”

Pope Francis said in his letter that Christians in the Middle East and “members of other religious and ethnic groups” were aggravated recently by the “continuing hostilities in the region, but especially because of the work of a newer and disturbing terrorist organization, of previously unimaginable dimensions, which has perpetrated all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts,” making a reference to the jihadist terrorist organization of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), while also repeating his call to the international community to promote peace through negotiation and diplomacy.

Pope Francis will hold a Midnight Mass to celebrate the solemnity of the Lord Jesus Christ’s Birth at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican at 20:30 GMT.

Christmas masses will also take place in Turkey, including the most known and largest Catholic Church in Istanbul located on the İstiklal Avenue, the Church of St. Anthony. The mass will begin at 08:00 p.m. with Christmas carols on Dec. 24, and follow with a series of masses held on Dec. 25, in English at 10:00 a.m., in Polish at 10:30 a.m., in Italian at 11:30 a.m. and in Turkish at 19:00 p.m.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate will hold a mass in Greek at the St. George Church in Istanbul’s Fener neighborhood at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 24 and at 8:30 a.m. on Christmas day.

In Ankara, the International Protestant Church of Ankara will hold a service in the English and Turkish languages on Dec. 24 at 7:00 p.m.