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Monday, December 13, 2010

Cardinal Ratzinger Moderated Opposition to Turkey Joining Europe on Becoming Pope: Wikileaks | Informed Comment

Juan Cole's blog (Informed Comment) reflects on the recent Wikileaks cables that show a Cardinal Ratzinger - on his way to becoming pope - who was more skeptical of Turkish EU membership than the official Vatican line. Prof. Cole takes issue with the headline of the Guardian's report: "Future pope objects to EU membership for Muslim Turkey." On Prof. Cole's interpretation, Cardinal Ratzinger modified his personal conviction to fit the official Vatican line upon becoming pope.

My rejoinder would be that this indeed seems to have been the case, but it is nevertheless likely significant for the Vatican position over the long run that the new pope sees Turkey as a threat to Europe's Christian identity. While I am not a close observer of the Vatican, I cannot help but get the feeling that the pope's recent trip to Turkey was more of an attempt to mend relations that had gone sour due to e.g. the pontiff's 2006 remarks in Regensburg, which were seen as offensive by many Muslims in Turkey and elsewhere, than a sign of a new heading for the Vatican under Benedict.

Turkey reaches out to Greek Christian minority – CNN Belief Blog - Blogs

From CNN's Belief Blog, a report on the resent easing of restrictions on Turkey's small Greek Orthodox, most recently by granting passports to Orthodox bishop.
"A more tolerant society is emerging in Turkey," said Egemen Bagis, Turkey's top negotiator in its troubled bid to join the European Union.

"The situation in Turkey might not be perfect. But it is definitely better. And it is improving day by day," said Bagis, at a religious freedoms conference at the European Parliament in Brussels last month.

European values: liberty or tyranny - Features - Al Jazeera English

A survey of recent Islamophobic and xenophobic trends in Europe, from al Jazeera English (by a Dr. Parvaz.)
And it is not just tabloids that have contributed to the hysteria - social media has played a role in the anti-immigration, anti-Islam campaign, with film clips predicting when various Western countries will become Muslim states getting millions of hits, and clips refuting those claims receiving just a fraction of the interest.
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