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Ratzinger says Turkey has no place in EU

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger believes that Turkey does not belong in the European Union. In an interview with the French journal, Le Figaro, Cardinal Ratzinger said that Turkey, with 70 million predominately Muslim people, was "in permanent contrast to Europe" and should be excluded from the EU.

Analysts from the International Herald Tribune say that having failed in his bid to have Europe's Christian roots enshrined in the European Union's Constitution, the Cardinal is now seeking to influence the composition of the European Union to keep it as 'Christian' as possible.

"Like meddlesome clerics the world over, Ratzinger is inflaming an important political debate," the Tribune says. "He is elevating religious differences over political process and personal beliefs over values that are universal, not a Judaeo-Christian monopoly. But unlike other issues on which the Cardinal has recently taken provocative stands - whether pro-choice Catholic politicians should receive communion, and women's role in society - enlargement of the European Union is outside the church's purview. In the cardinal's view, Europe is Christian, so Turkey doesn't belong.

"In considering the possible implications of Turkey's membership in the Union, it would be refreshing if the Cardinal had chosen to emphasize the positive potential in combining the best Christian tradition of charity and the best Muslim tradition of social justice," the paper says.

Cardinal Ratzinger put a different view: "In the course of history, Turkey has always represented a different continent, in permanent contrast to Europe," Ratzinger told Le Figaro, noting that the history of Ottoman Empire, which once invaded Europe as far as Vienna. "Making the two continents identical would be a mistake," he said. "It would mean a loss of richness, the disappearance of the cultural to the benefit of economics." The German born cardinal said Turkey "could try to set up a cultural continent with neighboring Arab countries and become the leading figure of a culture with its own identity."

However the Catholic Bishops of Turkey were critical of Cardinal Ratzinger's remarks. The Turkish Catholic Bishops Assembly spokesman, George Marovitch, said last week: "I do not approve of Cardinal Ratzinger's remarks about Turkey. What Ratzinger did was only state his views on a political matter. Catholics are not bound to these views about Turkey's EU membership."

Marovitch, speaking in Rome, emphasized that the words of Ratzinger could be binding only if they were related to religious issues in Christianity. "His political views are binding for himself only. Therefore, the fact that he does not entertain the idea of Turkey's EU membership does not mean that all Catholics share his opinion."

Marovitch, contrary to Ratzinger's negative approach to Turkey, wanted to remind all that Pope John the 23rd, who passed away in 1963, was very fond of Turkey. "Pope John the 23rd worked in Turkey for 10 years before being elected. He knew the Turks very well. In his diary, he wrote 'I love Turks'. Everyone knows this. He, as opposed to Ratzinger, was a person who believed that Turkey should assume a place among modern countries."

See also:

  • International Herald Tribune
  • Turkey's Zaman.org
  • Aljazeera
  • Le Figaro interview (in French)







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