The Pope’s Visit to Turkey
On Thursday, November 28th, 2014, Al Jazeera reported that Pope Francis was visiting Turkey. During his visit, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of interfaith dialogue, as well as the importance for people to speak out against ISIL and their interpretations of Islam. Within this vein, he spoke out against various forms of fundamentalism. According to the report, Pope Francis was quoted as saying “Fanaticism and fundamentalism, as well as irrational fears which foster misunderstanding and discrimination, need to be countered by the solidarity of all believers…”.
He also spoke about his view of the future of Turkey, saying that “[m]y wish is that Turkey, which is a natural bridge between the two continents, is not just a point of intersection, but at the same time a point where men and women belonging to all cultures, ethnicity and religion live together in dialogue…”.
These statements by Pope Francis are very important to Turkey and to the international community. It is crucial for all leaders, secular and religious, to challenge extremist interpretations of religion. Groups such as ISIL or ISIL have tried to alter the pure messages of faiths such as Islam, and it is necessary for people to point to the positive aspects of these religious traditions. These groups try to find ways to make the faith fit their political or religious objectives, and it is for that reason that reformists and others must continue to speak out against how these groups view Islam (or other faiths), as well as the need to condemn the actions of these groups.
Pope Francis’ trip to Turkey highlights the ability of different faith leaders to work together on issues of religion and other matters within the realm of international relations.