Tuesday, July 25, 2017

50 years ago: Pope Paul VI visits Turkey

Those too young to remember a pope before John Paul II might be surprised to know that he wasn't the first Roman Catholic pontiff to visit other lands in efforts to promote ecumenism. On July 25, 1967, Pope Paul VI arrived in Istanbul to begin a two-day visit to Turkey; he visited the Orthodox Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul--becoming the first Roman Catholic pontiff to enter an Eastern Orthodox cathedral since 1054--and exchanged vows of ecumenical unity with Patriarch Atheganoras I. Pope Paul also addressed greetings to President Cevdet Sunay and the government of Turkey; Armenian Patriarch Snork Kalustian; and the leaders of the local Muslim and Jewish communities.

On July 26, Pope Paul concluded his visit by celebrating eucharist at the Church of St Anthony in Istanbul before visiting Ephesus and Smyrna. He addressed messages to Roman Catholic and Orthodox believers in Ephesus, and visited the Cathedral of St. John in Smyrna.

Pope Paul VI's visit to Turkey was another step toward religious unity, which has, in the 50 years since, expanded from a unity of visible "Christianity" to encompass a unity of all religions--which the Lord Jesus Christ will destroy with the brightness of his coming (II Thessalonians 2:8).

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