Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cold Turkey – ‘No Pope here!’

Cranmer is looking forward to the intelligent and erudite musings of his communicant Mr Istanbul Tory on the imminent visit of the Pope to his environs. The Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople extended the invitation, which was seen as a way for the Pope to encourage and cheer Turkey's embattled 150,00 Christians, in a Muslim nation of 80 million.

Following the Regensburg address, one wonders what His Holiness may dare to say that will be sure to have absolutely no possibility of being misquoted, misrepresented, or misunderstood. And yet, maybe his very presence in Turkey is a reminder of the gulf that exists between Christendom and the Islamic world. This is, after all, the man who once warned that letting Turkey into the EU would be ‘a grave error against the tide of history’ - he has become the incarnate symbol of Western hostility towards Turkey.

This visit could hardly be at a more contentious or inopportune time, coming, as it does, as the debate is reaching a bitter climax over whether to admit such a Muslim-populated country into the European Union. Mindful of the Turkish element in the plan to assassinate Pope John Paul II, a security plan involving 12,000 policemen is being implemented in Istanbul, with strategically-placed snipers, and the thorough search of the sewers for bombs. The authorities are only too aware of the on-going attacks against Christians since Regensburg, where the Pope was deemed to have ‘insulted the Prophet’ and ‘defamed Islam’. The Jihadists are out for blood – it is, after all, the will of Allah that the Pope be beheaded, and since Allah is immutable and impassible, he cannot change his mind. The death sentence stands until the Pope dies.

His Holiness is expected to make a defence of Christian minority rights, and call for an end to Turkey’s anti-Christian discrimination laws that make it difficult for churches to own property. The treatment of Christian minorities is one of the major hurdles to EU accession, and Christian Solidarity Worldwide has recently highlighted two cases of Christians being arrested for the nebulous and all-embracing crime of ‘insulting Turkishness’. Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal both work for a Bible correspondence course, and now they stand accused of inciting hatred against Islam, insulting the Turkish army, promoting sexual promiscuity, and bribing Muslims to convert to Christianity. They deny all charges, yet it is difficult to believe that their trial will be just. Will His Holiness raise such issues, or might this simply compound Turkish public opinion which is increasingly turning anti-European? According to a recent poll, 81% of Turks now believe that the EU is not treating them ‘sincerely and fairly’, compared to 2% who say that it is.

The Pope is expected to visit Istanbul’s 6th-century Byzantine Hagia Sophia Church, which was converted into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453. It is likely to be here, the embodiment of the ‘clash of civilisations’, that the Pope’s every word, every movement, every gesture will be scrutinised to establish with what reverence His Holiness holds Islam, and what hope he may offer the people Turkey in their interminable quest to join the European Union.

Cranmer is still deciding whether this Turkish trip is the pontifical voyage from hell, or to it.


Anonymous Ulster Man said...

It's ironic that one of the main reasons Europhiles give for the EEC/EU was to end conflicts and war. In Europe, it seems to have largely worked, at least between France and Germany. Since that's the case ( - they say), the EU should embrace Turkey. It's very clearly the best way to avoid World War III.

26 November 2006 at 13:26  
Anonymous billy said...

Instead of avoiding WW3 perhaps we should embrace it before the islamic nations get too many nuclear weapons. History shows that we cannot trust Muslims to act fairly against Christians (which seems to mean any white European however irreligious) or to give Christians the same rights in Islamic lands that they demand for themselves in Christian lands.
Organise and attack sooner rather than later. Surely the US, UK and Israel can beat a pan Islamic army. They have shown in their battles against Israel and Kuwait and the Gulf that they are not very effective.

26 November 2006 at 15:25  
Blogger istanbultory said...

His Grace is too kind. I shall, of course, cast a discerning and erudite idea over the papal progress through this most Mohammedan of Mohammedan lands. I suspect this Turkish trip will, indeed, be quite an ordeal for the pontiff.The Italian daily "La Republica" newspaper today quoted Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as calling the trip "dangerous" and claimed certain "difficulties and troubles" might occur during the visit.

"La Republica" further reported that Mossad agents and Italian and Vatican security and intelligence officers have arrived in Turkey to help Turkish security units. "La Republica" also reported that security units in Istanbul arrested a group in preparation for an attack on the pope a few weeks ago in Istanbul....

According to the Turkish media,Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi has stated that the Pope is coming to Turkey as a "friend", that the trip is designed to foster "inter-religious harmony" and that the "Vatican is not opposed to Turkish accession to the EU". This would appear to mark cumulative a departure from the views espoused at Regensberg....
For more:

26 November 2006 at 20:34  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

By the way, Cranmer, your use of 'No Pope here' makes me feel very much at home on your blog.

The Turks should take note, however, that the Pope is visiting them as a friend, not as the Antichrist.

26 November 2006 at 22:25  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The Turks should take note, however, that the Pope is visiting them as a friend, not as the Antichrist.

Antichrist ? !!!!!!!!

Surely that is what Mohammed is both doctrinally and symbolically

27 November 2006 at 08:50  
Anonymous bob said...

The Free Presbyterian Church, of which Dr Ian Paisley is the leader, holds the Westminster Confession of Faith as a statement of it's doctrine, and Chapter XXV, article VI states:
There is no other head of the Church, but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself, in the Church. against Christ and all that is called God.

27 November 2006 at 09:12  
Anonymous Voyager said...


The article suggests the Pope's visit is not to do with Islam but simply to reconcile the Christian Church in the East - it was after all a private invitation from the Orthodox Church to the Pope which was hi-jacked by the Turkish State to prevent the Christian Church in Turkey having any profile

27 November 2006 at 09:53  
Anonymous Colin said...

Since the Pope is against Turkey's EU accession, it appears to me that his Regensburg address followed by his visit to Turkey is a well-planned attempt to provoke an anti-Christian reaction in Turkey in order to endanger its EU membership. If I interpret the signs correctly, the plan of the Pope and possibly Mrs. Merkel seem to consist in stimulating anti-EU resentment among the Turkish population so that their politicians will risk to lose power at the election and therefore might withdraw from negotiations with the EU. The reports of Instanbultory will be most interesting for getting an unbiased view about the reactions in Turkey to the Pope's visit.

27 November 2006 at 10:39  
Anonymous Colin said...

Since the mass media are pro-EU and pro-Islam, my prediction is that they will try to downplay the relevance of the anti-Christian reactions in Turkey to the Pope's visit. The first sign is the link given by Voyager to a leftist news magazine which claims that the Pope's visit is not to do with Islam.

27 November 2006 at 10:47  
Anonymous Voyager said...

All very hugger-mugger but the Pope is not a politician and Frau Merkel is Protestant

The Pope's visit will coincide with the feast of St. Andrew, the patron of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, on November 30. Shortly after Pope Benedict's election, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I had invited the Pope to join him for the celebration of that feast day. The Pontiff had accepted the invitation, but his wish to make the trip in 2005 was thwarted by the Turkish government's reluctance to issue a quick invitation. Later-- having signaled its annoyance with the Orthodox leader for issuing an invitation without prior consultation, and perhaps also its displeasure with remarks that the Pontiff had made criticizing Turkey's bid for entry into the European Union-- the Ankara regime suggested that Pope Benedict would be welcome to visit in 2006. The official announcement of the papal trip comes just as Church officials are still mourning the death of Father Andrea Santoro, an Italian missionary priest who was killed in Turkey on February 5, apparently by an Islamic fanatic. The slain priest had only recently written to Pope Benedict, asking the Holy Father to visit his little parish in the Black Sea port town of Trabzon, during his stay in Turkey.

CWN 9 Feb 2006

27 November 2006 at 11:43  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

Voyager, it depends on how you're defining protestant, in Ulster any non-Catholic is a Prod! And Papa is most certainly a politician, he's a head of state, with diplomats, global embassies, a bank, and a currency. Its the Vatican's intefering in the affairs of nation states that proves his political role. Cranmer's site is about religio-politics, and he makes the point that it's not as cut and dried as you seem to think it is.

27 November 2006 at 13:03  
Anonymous Voyager said...

in Ulster any non-Catholic is a Prod!

That is a failure of the education system in Northern Ireland where poor Muslims and Atheists are regarded as believers in TULIP...........

I do not say the Pope has no political role, merely that he has little political importance, especially with respect to Frau Merkel whose government is more in the grip of the atheistic SPD and whose own CDU seems to be heading towards convergence with David Cameron

27 November 2006 at 13:16  
Anonymous Colin said...

"but the Pope is not a politician and Frau Merkel is Protestant"

Alliances between the leaders of states and of religions are a constant of human history.

Admittingly, it is difficult to know what Mrs. Merkel really wants except staying in power because she changes quite often the proclaimed course.

Even if Mrs. Merkel is not involved, it is safe to assume that the Pope does not want Turkey to become an influential member of the EU. He said so publicly, didn't he. Furthermore, it is safe to assume that outbursts of hate against the Pope in Turkey will make its accession to the EU more difficult. Finally, it is safe to assume that critizing Mohammed (as he has done in Regensburg) followed by a visit to Turkey (as he will do tomorrow) is likely to cause hateful reactions.

These relatively safe assumptions lead to the question: Is the sequence of events coincidental or planned ?

Voyager seems to favor the hypothesis of a coincidence whereas I prefer the hypothesis of a plan because leaders in such a high office are not entirely stupid (at least I hope so) and rarely get to the top without some strategical ability.

27 November 2006 at 19:24  
Anonymous bob said...

With respect, Colin, in stating that Pope Benedict criticised Mohammed you make the same error that the Islamic world made by cherry picking one line that Pope Benedict quoted from another source during the course of a rather lengthy speech. The focus of the speech wasn't even about Mohammed or Islam. It was about the place of reason in the Christian faith. Islam was mentioned only in one paragraph as a contrast between the two faiths.

27 November 2006 at 20:45  
Anonymous Colin said...


Thank you for your comment.

I beg to differ. The reason is that I think that the Pope is sufficiently intelligent and not suffering from Alzheimer's disease to know - after the Islamic reaction to the Danish cartoons - what kind of reaction his one line would provoke in the Islamic world.

By citing the Byzantine emperor, the Pope said in his Regensburg lecture: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

It is difficult to believe for me that he was unable to foresee the reactions to this one line. Everybody else predicted it.

27 November 2006 at 21:52  
Anonymous bob said...

Colin - as far as I'm aware no one else knew the content of the speech before it was delivered, so I don't know how the reaction could have been predicted by everyone if that was the case.

Secondly, you're again taking one line out of context without reference to the rest of the speech. As an academic, Pope Benedict would have expected the speech to be read in it's totality, and for reaction to be based upon everything he had said, not just on one line. I think this was made clear in the statements from both Pope Benedict and the Vatican after the event.

Thirdly, the Danish cartoons were deliberately provactive. Pope Benedict, on the other hand, was quoting Emperor Manuel's dialogue with a Persian scholar, in a broader context. To focus on this one line is giving in to a culture of soundbites without substance. If the Pope is to be judged on what he said, then let him at least be judged for the totality of what he said, and not on one line.

To attribute a grand political plan to this event is, to me at least, bordering on paranoia.

27 November 2006 at 22:18  
Anonymous Colin said...


"I don't know how the reaction could have been predicted by everyone"

Shortly after the publication of the Pope's lecture in German on the internet, I translated the famous sentence at Archbishop Cranmer's blog 12:35 AM comment: "It seems to me that the Pope is mainly critizising Djihād (Holy war) by talking about the historic dialogue in 1391 between the learned Byzantine Emperor Manuel II. Palaeologos and an educated Persian about Christianity, Islam, and the truth of both." At that time, the English translation was not available, the MSM hadn't reported any reactions from the Islamic world, and bloggers were already discussing the likely reactions based on the previous Danish cartoons crisis, e.g. at Brusselsjournal, Western Resistance, Gates of Vienna, Jihadwatch etc.

"bordering on paranoia"

If the arguments for one's view are convincing, the use of insults isn't necessary and only weakens the case.

Some would retort by employing similar language. That's not my style. I don't see any sense in engaging in a battle of insults instead of arguments. I explained my interpretations, you explained yours. Since nobody knows what the Pope was thinking, neither of us is able to prove his point. You may believe whatever you like if it makes you happy.

28 November 2006 at 00:20  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Even if Mrs. Merkel is not involved, it is safe to assume that the Pope does not want Turkey to become an influential member of the EU.

I know of few sane people who do not share that opinion.

As for Regensburg, it is interesting to note that the Byzantine Emperor in question had already been a prisoner of The Sultan, escaped, and was now besieged in his palace as he engaged in discourse with the Persian, who represented another society and culture overwhelmed by Islam.

Put another way, one man about to succumb to Islam's multicultural embrace was comparing notes with one whose culture had already succumbed................but no doubt it will be different in Western Europe

28 November 2006 at 07:28  
Anonymous bob said...

Colin - I am sorry if I insulted you. It was not my intention. I was merely giving my honest opinion that it seemed dangerously close to paranoia.

As for your translation, I think perhaps my difficulty lies with your use of the word "predict," which, to me at least, implies a prior knowledge of the text. However, I could be wrong, and often am.

28 November 2006 at 09:09  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

It's likely that this visit will be the one that defines Ratzinger's papacy. That's what some of the media comment is saying, and I agree. This visit is likely to be a turning point for Turkey's EU ambitions, and a turning point for the Vatican and Islam. Will he show reverence for Mohammed? Probably. And he'll make sweet noises about Turkish civilisation. And Patriarch Bartholomew is out to change the papal mind, unless he's already infallibly made it up.

28 November 2006 at 10:35  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Actually Turkey is unimportant. Ratzinger has seen two instances of fervent and rabid self-righteousness in his life - the one in his youth between 1933 and 1945, and the other in the 1968 era as the demogogues wanted to play Maoist Red Guard.

He now sees Islam as determined to impose its monolithic conformity on Western Europe aided and abetted by the 1968 generation whose hatred overwhelms any other sentiments they may aspire to.

Ratzinger spent so long at the side of John Paul II that he must have seen how little his outreach to Islam really brought, and how much it split the Christian Church in its widest sense. Faced with the disintegration of the Anglican Church, he sees his role simply as to bring back Orthodox Christianity and what is left of Reformation Christianity into an alliance - not a fusion - but an alliance to avoid the errors in Byzantium which led to Venetians ferrying Muslims to attack the Second Rome.

There were factions within Christianity more concerned to break Byzantium that what would ensue just as the Secular Left is so ready to destroy Christianity that the prospect of Islam dominating Europe is not even anticipated.

Look at Treveor Phillips comments - he is stunned by "white flight" from cities - is he really so naive that he did not expect this ?

Look at the Times today and the article about beheadings in mosques and torture in mosques - but if a Western soldier damages a mosque you would think he can defiled the Holy of Holies - whereas the full scale of Muslim bestiality is revealed in Iraq - these are Muslims using their mosques as arsenals, and as execution chambers.

The Pope is too old to care about the self-preening obsessions of the critics and nows there is only so much he can do to prevent Europe committing yet another great folly...............after the Twentieth Century flirtations with disaster, the 21st Century could be Europe's undoing.

28 November 2006 at 11:21  
Anonymous Colin said...


Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate that. You are not the only one who is sometimes wrong. It happens to me and probably all of us. As far as I can see, all we are trying to do on His Grace's blog is to exchange some ideas, information and opinions. I never claim to know the ultimate truth. I am simply trying to understand what might be going on. Naturally, your view is as valid as mine.

BTW, I don't have a negative view or paranoia about catholicism. Since my father is a protestant and my mother a catholic, I regularily attended the protestant and catholic church services as a child. Even as an atheist adult, I traditionally enjoy a Chrismas mass at a catholic church. Half of my extended family is catholic and the other half is protestant. Probably because of my personal experiences, I have problems to see why catholics and protestants shouldn't be able to get along with each other. Presumably, His Grace's and Ulster man's negative views about the catholic church are the result of entirely different experiences.

28 November 2006 at 11:29  
Anonymous Colin said...


Congratulations for your thoughtful 11:21 AM comment. It is a rare event when I totally agree with you.

With regard to your 7:28 AM comment, I am curious to learn more about your view:

it is safe to assume that the Pope does not want Turkey to become an influential member of the EU.

I know of few sane people who do not share that opinion

Does this mean that a few sane people think that the Pope wants Turkey to become an influential member of the EU and why would he want this to happen?

28 November 2006 at 11:41  
Anonymous Voyager said...


28 November 2006 at 11:58  
Anonymous Colin said...

And now for something completely different: The e-petition website of 10 Downing Street shows with 11555 signatures for repealing the Hunting Act 2004 and 1815 signatures for asking a referendum on the EU that the British people are six times more interested in hunting than in keeping their liberty and their national identity.

Do people really deserve liberty if they are not willing to sacrifice at least 10 minutes of their time for signing a petition?

28 November 2006 at 14:09  
Anonymous Colin said...

His Grace

might be interested in reports in the German media about the Pope's visit which I can't find on English or Turkish websites.

After meeting the Pope at the airport, Erdogan told journalists that the Pope has said to him that he wishes Turkey to become an EU member, that he would support its accession and that Islam is a religion of peace.

Focus, Spiegel, Welt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Neue Züricher Zeitung.

We might want to speculate why the Pope changed his mind and why the German media are so happy to report it.

With regard to the latter, a likely explanation could be that those who support Turkey's EU membership are eager to report that the problems have been solved.

With regard to the first, it is highly probable that the Pope's arms were a bit twisted by pro-EU politicians (Romano Prodi?) similar to the methods employed for blackmailing Switzerland to pay a billion Swiss Franc to the EU according to Stefan Karlsson. Switzerland and the Vatican are completely geographically surrounded by and depend on EU states. Therefore, "the swiss will have to pay up a billion swiss franc in "protection money" to the Don Corleones of Brussells." And the Pope might have been forced to abjure like Galileo.

An alternative explanation is provided by His Grace's hypothesis that the Catholic Church, the Krauts and the Turks are collaborating.

Does anybody know other explanations?

28 November 2006 at 17:06  
Blogger istanbultory said...

Has the Pope perhaps undergone a miraculous conversion to Turkish EU accession? or Does he believe (as I do) that Turkey's chances of entering the EU are practically zero. Thus, the Pope is aiming to collect some good will in the Islamic world by appearing (at a very late stage) to support the accession of Turkey, which he doesn't believe will ever happen....whatever the case, the Pope has signalled a remarkable departure from his previous views.

28 November 2006 at 17:16  
Anonymous Colin said...

BBC online has an article Pope begins landmark Turkey visit reporting only "During his airport meeting with Mr Erdogan, the pontiff gave Turkey support for its bid to enter the European Union, the prime minister said." and an interview with Tunay Egin, a Turkish lawyer and secular Muslim:

"I am not a very religious person and live as a westernised person in many respects. But even I felt angry in this situation, because no one has a right to criticise my beliefs or those of my people. Benedict XVI was completely wrong in what he said. Islam has never ever brought evil to the world. You cannot blame 9/11 on Islam, in the same way that you cannot blame Jesus for the Inquisition or the Crusades."

Well, the BBC is always a model of objective reporting, isn't it.

Instanbultory has an interesting interpretation:

"Does he believe (as I do) that Turkey's chances of entering the EU are practically zero."

Let's hope that you are right.

"the Pope is aiming to collect some good will in the Islamic world"

For what purpose?

28 November 2006 at 17:29  
Anonymous Voyager said...

We might want to speculate why the Pope changed his mind and why the German media are so happy to report it.

George Bush also thought Turkey should join the EU..........his country has the same voting power in the EU as The Vatican State.

I wonder what the pope thinks of Russia's attempt to join the WTO...........or whether he feels Japan should have a seat on the Security Council.

The Pope has no policy on this matter, and I doubt he said any such thing to Erdogan; but it gives Erdogan something to tell his public who think The Pope is Leader of Christian Europe and instructs politicians.

I have had nutcases in Germany tell me The Queen instructs Blair on policy and that she rules the country. In a peasant country like Turkey that thinks all Whites are Christians and one is the same as another (sorry Ulsterman) Erdogan could say The Pope likes Turkish tobacco and the masses would decide Christians are all smoking it.

28 November 2006 at 17:59  
Blogger istanbultory said...

Actually, the Vatican has been forced to put out a statement on Turkey and the EU. It said: "The Holy See does not have the power or specific task, politically, to intervene on the precise point of Turkey's entrance into the European Union. It does not strive for it.
"All the same, it sees positively and encourages the path of dialogue and of [Turkey] becoming closer and integrated into Europe, on the basis of our shared values and principles."

28 November 2006 at 18:40  
Anonymous Colin said...

From another perspective the entire story appears to be somehow funny.

We Christians believe in a Christian God because he is thought to be almighty, able to create the universe, to change the course of history (e.g. Moses & Egypt, Sodom & Gomorrha), to protect and to punish us.

But we all seem to agree that he is unable to stop the Islamisation of Europe and that the Pope, God's respresentative on earth, has no power to influence a minor event such as Turkey's EU membership.

28 November 2006 at 20:29  
Anonymous bob said...

I wouldn't say that God is unable to stop the Islamisation of Europe. To say that would mean that God is not omnipotent, and therefore would not be God. I think if, hypothetically, Europe was completely dominated by Islam in the future the proper course for Christians would not be to feel abandoned by God, but to look for God's providence in the midst of trials. If the message of Jesus Christ teaches us nothing else it teaches us not to fear the worst when our situation seems bleakest - as St Paul wrote: For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong

28 November 2006 at 22:39  
Anonymous Colin said...

If God is omnipotent, he could prevent the suffering at least of those Christians who haven't done nothing wrong.
If he could prevent it but doesn't do it, he cruel.
If he is cruel, it's not God.
So goes the classical argument of atheists.

28 November 2006 at 23:42  
Anonymous bob said...

The problem of the existence of evil (suffering) is arguably the greatest argument against the existence of God, and ultimately it is an argument that cannot be explained. However, for me, the best approach is that God created the human person as a being who is ultimately free. He did this so that man might freely love him. A person cannot be forced to love - it is something that must be freely done. However, the consequence of such freedom is that man also becomes free not to love, and thus evil, or in Christian terms sin, enters creation. Of course there are other evils such as those brought on by natural disasters. I don't see God as a cruel God, but as the God who made us free so that we might freely choose to love him who created us and who keeps us in being. That we can choose not to do so is not God's fault.

29 November 2006 at 01:11  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Colin said...

From another perspective the entire story appears to be somehow funny.

We Christians believe in a Christian God

Have you now abandoned Atheism as a religion ?

I note you have that 20th Century Delusion........that because you can do something, you must do something..........and then proceed to anthropomorphism

29 November 2006 at 05:45  
Anonymous Colin said...

"Have you now abandoned Atheism as a religion ?"

Voyager, please don't underestimate your ability to convince me.

29 November 2006 at 23:03  
Anonymous The Devil's Rectum said...

Voyager, "anthropomorphism"??
please do elaborate.

30 November 2006 at 07:02  

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