THE SPINE NOVEMBER 28, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI is a fearless traveler. He arrives in Turkey today, and he is unlikely to be welcomed as a friend. According to a report by Anne Barnard in Monday's Boston Globe, one of the posters that will
welcome him features "a pig with the (his) face...plastered to its head and a cross painted on its pink belly." Nice. Maybe, if he's lucky, the Turkish army, historically secular in the tradition of Ataturk, will contain the expected demonstrators to an area of Istanbul where he won't see this peculiar "how do you do." But even the Ataturkist military is falling to Islamism. The Pope's visit is actually in response to an invitation of the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church which split with Rome in 1054. But there aren't many Orthodox Christians in Turkey. There are,
however, 100,000 faithful of the Armenian Orthodox Church and these have in their collective memories the great 1915 massacres by the Ottomans and assorted other atrocities. Mesorb II, the Armenian Patriarch, said in an interview that the Pope's speech in Germany during September harmed the position of Christians in Turkey. "Why did he have to mention the Muslims?" asked Mesorb. How could he not have? How pathetic!