Monday, November 27, 2006

On the Eve of the Holy Father's Apostolic Visit to The Republic of Turkey

During yesterday's Angelus, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in anticipation of his 28 November-1 December 2006 trip to Turkey, said: "I ask all of you to accompany me in prayer, so that this pilgrimage will produce all the fruits that God desires". Well, actually, he said, in his German-accented Italian, "A tutti voi domando di accompagnarmi con la preghiera, perché questo pellegrinaggio possa portare tutti i frutti che Dio desidera." Turkey is a country very near and dear to my heart, a land I have visited many times and in which I have many friends. I was heartbroken and bereft when, after arriving home from the region last winter, Fr. Andrea Santoro was tragically murdered while praying in his parish Church by a very confused and fanatical teenage young man in Trabezon, Turkey on the Black Sea coast, East of Istanbul. Of course, in light of his terribly misunderstood University of Regensburg address, the Holy Father needs our prayers.

In accompanying Pope Benedict XVI in prayer, let us ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Theotokos, who ended her earthly sojourn in Ephesus. Also pray to St. Andrew, patron of the Orthodox Patriarchate, on whose feast, in the Patriarchal Church of St. George, the Holy Father will attend the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy at which Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I will preside. We must also invoke Sts. Peter and Paul. Let us ask the martyr, Fr. Andrea Santoro, along with the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, also shot by a Turkish national, for their heavenly intercession. We must not fail in invoke the help of Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, who, in Jerusalem in 1964, mutually revoked the centuries old excommunications and started the process of reunification that has been underway ever since. Let us not neglect to ask Blessed Pope John XXIII, who, for ten years, was the Holy See's Apostolic Delegate in Turkey, for his celestial aid. (For a great take on Blessed Pope John XXIII's Turkish legacy, link over to Rocco's post Amico dei Turci.)

An easy and wonderful way to accompany the Holy Father in prayer is to use the cards, generously provided by the Knights of Columbus, that we distributed after all masses at The Cathedral of the Madeleine yesterday and daily pray the prayer, composed by Bishop William Lori, bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT and Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus. For those of you who are not Cathedral parishoners, or who did not take a card home (shame on you), you can download the Spiritual Pilgrimage card in printable .pdf format from the Knights' website. Pray specifically for the Pope in his role as Pontifex Maximus, which means supreme bridge builder, in his efforts to close the gap between the West and the East and to successfully rebuild the necessary connection between faith and reason. Pray also that this visit to the Phanar on the Feast of St. Andrew will be a big step toward achieving not only full and visible communion between the Eastern and Western churches, fractured in 1054 AD, but in uniting, in the words of John Allen, "all religious believers in a common struggle against secularization and the progressive exclusion of religion from public affairs, especially in Europe". After all, what is more Westernizing than secularization?

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