Pope Francis, the religious leader of the world’s Catholics, is scheduled to start his visit to predominantly Muslim Turkey on Friday.
The pope, who will be in Turkey between Nov. 28-30, issued his request for prayers from the Vatican City on Wednesday.At his weekly general audience on Nov. 26, Pope Francis mentioned to those attending that he would shortly be visiting Turkey. Pope Francis will start his visit in Ankara, where he will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Religious Affairs Directorate President Mehmet Görmez in separate meetings on Friday. He is also scheduled to visit the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic.
On Saturday, the pope will travel to İstanbul, where he is expected to visit the historic Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) Museum. The Hagia Sophia was built as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica in A.D. 360. It served as the Greek Orthodox cathedral of Constantinople until the city’s conquest by the Ottomans in 1453, when the building was turned into a mosque. It remained so until 1931, when it was closed to the public for four years. It was reopened by the republican authorities in 1935 as a museum, after Turkey became a secular state.The pope will also visit the Sultanahmet Mosque in İstanbul and is later expected to celebrate mass in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (St. Esprit Cathedral) in Harbiye. After that, the pope will visit the Patriarchal Church of St. George in İstanbul, the seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, and meet with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I for a private meeting.On Sunday, the last day of his visit, the pope will celebrate mass in the Church of St. George, which Bartholomew I will also attend. Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew are expected to sign a joint declaration, according to the Catholic News Service, but the nature of the joint declaration has not yet been revealed.Pope Francis is expected to leave İstanbul for Rome, after having lunch with Patriarch Bartholomew on Sunday.
Source Daily Sabah