News24

Pope: Turkey bridge to Islam

2010-01-07 19:04

Rome - Pope Benedict XVI called Turkey a "bridge between Islam and the West", during a discussion with the new Turkish ambassador to the Vatican on Thursday.

But the pontiff also said the Catholic Church should receive a recognised legal status in the country.

Such a status would help the Church to "enjoy complete freedom of religion and help to build up (Turkey's) society," Benedict told Ambassador Kenan Gursoy.

The Pope also thanked Turkey for "all steps making it easier for pilgrims to visit sites related to the life of Paul of Tarsus," also known as Saint Paul.

According to a Vatican Radio report, Benedict also said he was still open to a dialogue with Islam "in the spirit of mutual respect and friendship."

The pontiff also praised Ankara's strengthened role in the Mideast peace process, the radio said.