Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

German church leaders urge concessions for Christians in Turkey

The president of Germany's Roman Catholic Bishops Conference has called on Muslims to do more to support religious freedom for Christians around the world, especially in Turkey, from where most German Muslims originate.

"We hope reflection on the faith will lead to the overcoming of tensions dividing Christians and Muslims," said Archbishop Robert Zollitsch. "But we should also remember the difficult situation facing Christians in the Middle East. The Catholic Church in Germany has publicly supported justified Muslim needs, and we count on Christians in Turkey soon being able to enjoy full religious freedom too."

The Archbishop sent greetings to Muslims, dated August 27, for the end of the traditional Ramadan fast in Germany. Three million mostly ethnic Turkish Muslims make up 3.5 per cent of Germany's population and are the third largest religious group after Catholics and Protestants.

At the same time, another German Catholic church leader welcomed a recent call by the Muslim head of Turkey's official religious council for Christians to be allowed to repossess a historic church at St Paul's birthplace of Tarsus.

"If this church were given back, it would be a signal for the whole world and German society in particular," Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne said in a statement.

"Members of Turkey's government have made many promises to return it which have aroused hopes and then turned out to be illusory. But our church hierarchy has never abandoned the ancient Christian principle of hoping against hope."

Christian minorities have frequently complained of discrimination and hostility in Turkey, most of whose 71.5 million inhabitants are Sunni Muslims.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Armenia Church To Boycott Landmark Mass In Turkey

Armenia's religious leaders have decided to boycott an upcoming landmark liturgy at a medieval Armenian cathedral located in southeastern Turkey because of Ankara's refusal to restore a cross on its dome, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Mass will be celebrated at the 10th-century church of Surp Khach (Holy Cross) for the first time in nearly a century on September 19, three years after the church was reopened following a $1.5 million renovation funded by the Turkish government. The government has allowed Turkey's surviving Armenian Christian community to hold religious services there once a year.