Thursday, November 30, 2006

Joint Declaration follows Divine Liturgy at the Phanar

Well, I just finished watching EWTN's coverage of the Divine Liturgy for the Festival of St Andrew (and the Translation of the relics of St John Chrysostom and St Gregory the Theologian) at the Cathedral Church of St George at the Phanar in Istanbul has just finished with the signing of the joint declaration between the Patriarch and the Pope.

I cannot find the text on the Internet yet, but I heard it read twice, and caught what will probably hit Turkey's media in about a minute or two, namely that the Holy Father may not be quite as enthusiastic about the entry of Turkey into the EU as PM Erdrogan tries to make out. I am refering to that paragraph of the text that reiterates that all members of the European community must be committed to full religious freedom, and secondly that "while remaining open to other religions" the Christian identity of Europe must not be compromised. Now, nothing there explicitly, but you would have to be stupid not to understand what they are saying.

There always was speculation about how the Pope would raise the issue of rights for the Christian minorities in Turkey, and now we have seen it in no uncertain terms. It remains to be seen now whether there is a change in evaluation of the Apostolic Journey in the Turkish Newspapers. Up until now they have been rather positive because the Pope has seemed to endorse Turkey and all she stands for. Well, that endorsement just received a big qualification. I wonder how it will go down?

PS. As a footnote, after watching the entire divine liturgy, I couldn't help but think "I know now why I am a Catholic--sometimes I like the liturgy just to last 20 minutes!" There were a few closeups of the Holy Father at times looking like he might drop off. My children said "Turn it down, Dad"--I don't think they like Greek chanting. And it does seem to be something of a spectator sport. Compared to the somewhat homespun liturgy at the House of Mary in Ephesus yesterday (with Taize Chants, Hymns sung to Old One Hundredth, "Seek Ye First" Alleluias, and "Nearer My God to Thee" in Turkish--or was it Greek?), the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom really is for the experts. I was rather thrilled though to be able to follow the chanting of gospel in my Greek New Testament!

PPS. Top moments: The Kiss of Peace between the Holy Father and the Patriarch, and the Balcony appearance where the Patriarch lifted the Holy Father's hand into the air in a sort of "victory" sign!

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