I am feeling a bit like Peter. You remember how he tried to tell Jesus not to make the trip to Jerusalem? Part of me is telling Pope Benedict XVI to stay home. Why do you want to go to Turkey? There are some not-so-nice people there who really don’t like you. But I don’t want to be a stumbling block to the will of the Holy Spirit. If Pope Benedict feels called to go to Turkey, I will trust in Divine Providence.
The Vatican has a very nice summary of the goals of this trip. This journey is meant to be pastoral, ecumenical, and an opportunity for interreligious dialogue.
It is significant that the Holy Father’s first journey to a predominantly Muslim country begins in the very land from which Abraham, the common patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, undertook his journey of faith in God. It was from Harran, a village in present-day Turkey, that he set out in a spirit of total dependence upon God, trusting solely in the word that had been revealed to him.
The renewed memory of these common roots linking the three religions, which the Holy Father wishes to evoke in his journey, is an invitation to overcome the conflicts between Jews, Christians and Muslims that have taken place over the centuries.
So, my dear Holy Father, go if you must. Do be careful. I will be praying for you.