The Pope has sent a message of respect and friendship to the people of Turkey during Sunday prayers at the Vatican. His four day visit there is considered risky, the pontiff´s words could help placate bad feeling stirred up by his earlier comments that were seen as harshly critical of Islam:
“I wish to send cordial greetings to the dear Turkish populus, a country rich in history and culture, to its people and representatives, I send sentiments of estime and sincere friendship.”
But the main focus of Benedict´s trip to Turkey is not promoting Roman Catholic ties with Islam but with the world´s 250 million Orthodox Christians.
The highlight of the visit will be his meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul where the Pope is expected to relay his hopes for greater unity in the Church.