Sandro Magister in Chiesa on the Vatican, Turkey and the EU (thanks to Anthony):
ROMA — The Vatican has so far abstained from any official comment on the preliminary go-ahead given on October 6 by the European Commission to negotiations for the possible entry of Turkey into the European Union.
The secretariat of state responds to private inquiries from diplomats that it has no preconceived reasons to oppose a decision by the European Union to admit Turkey, on the condition that the country respect stated democratic norms and guarantee more religious liberty, particularly for the Christian minorities, than is currently the case.
But opinions in the Vatican are clearer than the official position. Some are opposed, and a growing number of others are in favor.
One source of opposition is a highly authoritative Vatican official: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Ratzinger has recently voiced his opposition on two occasions: in an August 13 interview with “Le Figaro Magazine,” and in a speech on September 18 to the pastoral workers of his titular diocese, Velletri, which was published in the Catholic newspaper of the Swiss town of Lugano, “Il Giornale del Popolo.”
In both cases, he specified that he was expressing his own opinion, not that of the Holy See.
Ratzinger told Sophie de Ravinel of “Le Figaro Magazine”:
“Europe is a cultural continent, not a geographical one. It is its culture that gives it a common identity. The roots that have formed it, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. […] In this sense, throughout history Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe. There were the wars against the Byzantine empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. That is why I think it would be an error to equate the two continents. It would mean a loss of richness, the disappearance of culture for the sake of economic benefits. Turkey, which is considered a secular country but is founded upon Islam, could instead attempt to bring to life a cultural continent together with some neighboring Arab countries, and thus become the protagonist of a culture that would possess its own identity but would also share the great humanistic values that we should all acknowledge. This idea is not incompatible with close and friendly forms of association and collaboration with Europe, and would permit the development of unified strength in opposition to any form of fundamentalism.”
In his speech in Velletri, as reported by “Il Giornale del Popolo” and by a dispatch from the news agency ANSA on September 20, he repeated:
“Historically and culturally, Turkey has little in common with Europe; for this reason, it would be a great error to incorporate it into the European Union. It would be better for Turkey to become a bridge between Europe and the Arab world, or to form together with that world its own cultural continent. Europe is not a geographical concept, but a cultural one, formed in a sometimes conflictual historical process centered upon the Christian faith, and it is a matter of fact that the Ottoman empire was always in opposition to Europe. Even though Kemal Ataturk constructed a secular Turkey during the 1920’s, the country remains the nucleus of the old Ottoman empire; it has an Islamic foundation, and is thus very different from Europe, which is a collection of secular states with Christian foundations, although today these countries seem to deny this without justification. Thus the entry of Turkey into the EU would be anti-historical.”
There is much more. Read it all.