From CWN: A front-page story in today's New York Times announces that Pope Benedict XVI ( endorsed Turkey's bid for membership in the European Union. If accurate, that story would show a complete reversal of the Pontiff's position. But is it entirely accurate?
After meeting briefly with the Pope at the airport outside Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters about the Pope's new position. According to Erdogan, as quoted by the Times: "He said, ‘You know we don’t have a political role, but we wish for Turkey’s entry into the EU.'"
Notice: The announcement came from the Turkish premier. The Pope himself made no public statement on the topic. In fact, Benedict XVI has not spoken on that subject since his election to the papacy in April 2005.
The Pope's last public comments on Turkey's aspirations for EU membership were made in September 2004, when he was speaking not as Roman Pontiff but as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. At that time, in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro he remarked that Turkey's Islamic culture put the country "in permanent contrast to Europe." To date, he explained, the European Union has been composed of nations that share a common Christian cultural background. Expanding the EU to include Turkey, he said, "would mean a loss of richness, the disappearance of the cultural for the benefit of the economic."