By Nieves San Martín

Zenit News Agency
Jan 8 2008

Tarsus Needs Church to Accommodate Pilgrims, Says Bishop

ROME, JAN. 8, 2008 ( Turkey will have a strategic role in
the year of St. Paul, since Tarsus was the birth place of the saint,
reported the coordinators of the jubilee.

Benedict XVI proclaimed a jubilee year of St. Paul from June 28,
2008, to the same date in 2009, marking the 2,000th anniversary of
the apostle's birth.

An information bulletin about the year said the Church in Turkey is
preparing "with spirit and a special determination they derive from
feeling 'one' with the apostle born in Tarsus."

According to Bishop Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar of Anatolia,
Turkey, "St. Paul can be considered the apostle of Christian identity,
in an era like today when any type of religion can be embraced,
in a moment in which the many paths toward God are ranked on the
same level."

The Turkish episcopal conference, formed by seven bishops, three of
the Latin rite, two Armenians, one Syrian Catholic and one Chaldean,
is considering the program for the celebrations.

The bishops already planned a letter to the faithful of the various
rites as well as a pilgrimage to Rome.

The conference has established contact with Greek Orthodox Patriarch
Bartholomew I of Constantinople and with the Syrian Orthodox and
Armenian Gregorian Metropolitan Archbishops, in order to organize
common ecumenical initiatives dedicated to St. Paul, as Benedict XVI
has suggested.

"The bi-millennium will serve also to call the attention of the Church
to the Christian minority communities in Turkey, making them conscious
of the situation," added Bishop Padovese.

One of the first goals for Catholics is to obtain permission from
the Turkish authorities in Tarsus to make a permanent place for
Christian worship to accommodate the pilgrims who will arrive from
the entire world.

Today, there is only one church-museum without a cross. To use the
building for liturgy, previous permission must be obtained and payment
must be given to the civil authorities.

"I asked Prime Minister Erdogan that access to the building, the
only Christian place in the city which has not been transformed into
a mosque, may be permitted not only to Catholics, but also to all
Christians; or that the Christians might be able to acquire land to
build a church," Bishop Padovese said. "In Tarsus the museum-church
is not needed, but a church where faithful and pilgrims can feel at
home and pray."

"The authorities of Tarsus," he added, "have mixed sentiments: They
are conscious of the importance of the city for Christians; they are
proud to be fellow citizens with a first-rate person. But at the same
time, they show perplexity and discomfort when it comes to handling
a situation implying religious tourism with special demands."

--Boundary_(ID_BM3x6GDW4qxma57P0oD JEg)--

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress