|Pope arriving for Holy Mass at Istanbul's Holy Spirit Church on November 29, 2014. - AFP|
Vatican, Dec. 2, 2014 - Turkey’s tiny Catholic community has thanked Pope Francis for showing them the path to peace, during his Nov. 28-30 visit to the overwhelming Muslim nation. “Thank you Pope Francis, for the gift of your visit to Turkey where you were able to meet not only a hardworking and generous people but also a living Christian community,” wrote Dr. Rinaldo Marmara, the spokesman for Turkey’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, in a statement on Monday. He noted that despite being a minority, the Catholic community knows how to draw courage, strength and hope to face the daily difficulties for Christian witnessing. Turkey’s Catholics thanked the Holy Father for showing them the path to dialogue with other Christian communities and their Muslim brothers. They also expressed their gratitude for reminding them that true peace cannot but be based on respect for the fundamental rights and duties linked to the dignity of man. Turkey’s Catholic Church committed itself to engage in inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue to promote solidarity among believers for a healthy social cohesion.
During his 3-day visit to Turkey, Pope Francis celebrated one public Mass for the country's Catholics at Istanbul's Church of the Holy Spirit on Nov. 29. The main purpose of this visit was to celebrate the Nov. 30 feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul. The Apostle is regarded as the founder and patron of the Patriarchate.