Pope’s Says Mistake to Equate Turkey to Europe Skeptic on EU Bid

ROME (AFP/The New Anatolian)–In his first book published since his inauguration–Pope Benedict XVI expressed strong reservations about Turkey becoming a European Union (EU) member.

Sections of Former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s 152-page book–"The Europe of Benedict–in the crisis of cultures," were made available to the press.

According to Italian news agency Apcom–the pope invites people to rethink Turkey’s EU membership. "Turkey is a state affected by Islamic culture–and it lacks Christian roots," the Pope writes.

The book contains material first written in 1992 and updated as recently as early this year–shortly before Benedict’s election to the papacy–according to the Cantagalli publishing house.

"Ataturk tried to change Turkey into a secular state in order to adopt the Christian secularism found in Europe," writes the Pope–"European identity can only be determined by the norms and content of the similar enlightened cultures. All the states that can adopt these criteria could be European."

In an interview last August–the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said–"Turkey has always represented another continent throughout history–in permanent contrast with Europe–so to equate the two continents would be a mistake."

Vatican Slams Turk Intolerance

The Vatican ambassador to Turkey yesterday condemned "institutional christianophobia" in the largely Muslim but secular country.

"In Turkey–a country that defines itself as a secular democracy–religious freedom only exists on paper," Archbishop Edmond Farhat told the Italian news agency ANSA. "It is included in the constitution–but in reality it is not implemented."

The archbishop said the resistance to the implementation of religious freedom "makes you think there is a strategy not to extend to Christians the same freedom which is enjoyed by non–Christian religions in Europe. There is an institutional christianophobia in Turkey which is not very different from other Muslim countries."

He also cited the charges against Protestant missionaries in Turkey–who are accused of trying to convert people to Christianity. The missionaries were accused of "threatening Turkish unity." The Catholic Church has been seeking legal recognition in the country since 1970.

"The EU has done a lot for religious freedom in Turkey. But it is not enough. Religious freedom must be a presented not as a condition but a right," Farhat said.

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