Thursday, April 21, 2005

Turkey Braces Itself for Benedict's Papacy

"Many Turks fear forces that want to block their nation's entry to the European Union may find a powerful new champion: Pope Benedict XVI.

"Anti-Turkish pope," said the headline of the Cumhuriyet newspaper on Wednesday, the day after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's selection as pontiff.

"He was Turkey's last choice," said the newspaper Radikal.

The consternation stems largely from comments Benedict made in his previous role as the Vatican's doctrine chief on the nature of multiculturalism and specifically about Turkey's European aspirations. "Multiculturalism," he said, amounts to "fleeing from what is one's own."

And in an interview last year with the French magazine Le Figaro, he suggested that Turkey's bid to join the Europe Union conflicted with Europe's Christian roots. "Turkey has always represented a different continent, in permanent contrast to Europe," he was quoted as saying.

For many people in Turkey, which has staked its future on being part of a religiously diverse Europe, Ratzinger's selection seemed like a dire setback."

Turkey Braces Itself for Benedict's Papacy

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