The two gentleman talked for 50 minutes and the Pope reportedly even mentioned Kurds, but the Vatican’s communiqué indicates that the talks focused mainly on the status of Jerusalem and on the need to promote peace.
The Pope has probably heard about the neo-Ottoman aspirations of his guest and about his ties with the neo-Nazi Muslim Brotherhood, about his financial (and not only financial) support of Hamas, and he knows very well what kind of fate Christians in Turkey are facing. Erdogan probably knows what the Vatican’s stand was on the issue of creating a Jewish state, what the Vatican’s stand was on the issue of Jerusalem in 1947, and with what force the Vatican returned to the idea of the international status of Jerusalem 1967. Erdogan also knows why the Vatican reacted so violently to President Trump’s announcement that Jerusalem has been for the last 70 years de jure and de facto Israel’s capital, and there is no longer any reason to pretend otherwise.
Trump’s announcement ignored Muslim and Christian sensitivities, infringed the status quo of the unanimous refusal to recognize reality in the name of religious tradition, and resulted in this meeting to discuss a matter of the utmost urgency. Were the gentlemen also praying together? The communiqué doesn’t mention it, but if they prayed what did they pray for: for Gaza, for Palestine (of course, free Palestine)? Or, maybe, just for peace, and people will figure out the rest.
It’s known (the Vatican respects Muslim sensitivity) that there was no genocide of Armenians or Greeks (saying that there was is punishable in Turkey), there is no persecution of Christians, there are no arrests nor assassinations. The Pope, coming from Argentina, knows that one should not annoy any murderous dictators; they should be treated with warmth and understanding. Does the good Pope Francis know Erdogan’s comment uttered in response to Trump’s announcement? In December 2017 Turkey’s President said:
“Those who think they are the owners of Jerusalem today will not even be able to find trees to hide behind tomorrow.”
Interestingly, Erdogan said this in Ankara while marking the Day of Human Rights (December 10). Were these the words for which he got from Francis a symbolic gesture of peace, a medallion with an angel?
Erdogan’s December signal got a response in the form of a tsunami of Turkish tweets from known and less known people:
“I hope this will be a cause of war for us. I will spit on the blood of Jews.”
- “[With each] Jew massacred, the world will get more relaxed, and say ‘I have got rid of those pieces of filth’.”
- “The ummah [Islamic community] is ready for an intifada. They can exterminate the Jew.”
- “To declare Jerusalem the capital [of Israel] means to start a new war in the Middle East. We have no fear of war. [The question is] Where will we bury millions of Jewish bodies? To touch Jerusalem means an end to Jews.”
Did the knowledge of such public feelings induce the good Francis to invite the moderate Muslim to the Vatican? Oh, I’m sorry, Erdogan deeply dislikes the expression “moderate Muslim”. He thinks that there is no moderate Islam, just one Islam, and that expression “moderate” is the West’s devious invention. Frankly speaking, I can’t rule out that in this matter Pope Francis is also of the same opinion. I can’t be sure because nobody asked the good Pope Francis whether he is a moderate Catholic. There is such a supposition, but he himself neither confirms nor denies it.
It could be interesting to know a Christian equivalent to the words of the Turkish President:
“The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers...”.
The current operation for murdering Kurds has a beautiful code name, “Olive Branch”. So, maybe, this medallion with an angel is for those peaceful efforts by the Turks?
Pope Francis visited Turkey in 2014, and since then thousands of people have been murdered, thousands have gone to prison, and many Christian churches have been closed, so it was time for a return visit.
The Pope has often praised Turkey for her efforts towards peace and opined that Turkey is working for peace. We do not have any information about the basis on which he formulated this opinion but, judging by this visit, he hasn’t changed it.
Regardless of whether we call this meeting the theatre of the absurd or the theatre of sanctimonious hypocrisy, it should’ve been the hit of the season for the media. However, journalistic cover of this event was modest. Just a few short notices, as if even sycophants couldn’t find words for it.
Translation: Małgorzata Koraszewska and Sarah Lawson