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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The Pope in Turkey: maximum police security presence

Background: as the people in Turkey could perceive the Pope's visite:

Turkey should use this papal visit to clear the serious misconceptions and prejudices its guest harbours with regard to Islam and Muslims. Pope Benedict is also known for his opposition to Turkey joining the European Union. Before taking over as Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger, as he was known then, Benedict had opposed Turkey’s EU bid, saying it belonged to a different cultural and religious sphere, adding that its admission would be a grave error against the ‘tide of history”.

The Turkish press had sounded the alarm that "the new pope's opposition to Ankara joining the European Union could raise fresh obstacles to its membership," (Christian Schience Monitot April 22, 2005)

Cool, polite welcome ...

Although the welcoming ceremony at Ankara's airport was low-key and there were no marching bands, no singing children and no national anthems, no waving crowds… The only onlookers seemed to be people waiting for the highway to reopen.


"Pope Benedict was greeted at the airport by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was about to leave for the NATO summit in Latvia and until the last minute had said he did not have time to receive the pope.

After the two leaders chatted in private inside a terminal building and exchanged gifts, Erdogan emerged to announce that the pope had indicated that he supported Turkey's decades-long bid to join the EU.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, later issued a statement clarifying that the Holy See has no say in the EU's membership but "views positively" the pursuit by Turkey.

That marked a reversal for the pope, who, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger opposed Turkey's inclusion, saying it was a Muslim nation "in permanent contrast" with a majority Christian continent. . .

Benedict XVI had wanted his visit to be a non political, pastoral one, yet his first gesture and
declaration were both political and diplomatic. One may wonder how this “turn about” will
be interpreted by the Turkish media: its viewers and readers…

Could the Pope have briefly explained why and how his mind unfolded on the subject of Turkey joining or not joining the EU? I think that would have been appreciated, credibility would have emerged, more perhaps, even confidence in the Vatican’s Head word…would have been strengthened.

From Izmir to Ephesus

May be his visit to Ephesus, to honour the parting of Jesus’ Mother after a long, totally offered life
to his son’s Mission, might help Benedict XVI to come closer to Jesus, the son of Man and a little more “independent” from an institutional straight jacket.

Mother Mary's House

Thousands of visitors —both Christian and Muslim — visit Mary’s House each year.
It is in a green, tranquil setting, high on a mountain outside Ephesus.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Can the sins of apartheid be forgiven?

David Beresford is asking this question in The Guardian, November 7th 2007.

Is it justifiable to forgive a crime against humanity?

How do the people feel? The people who suffered death and torture and dying from the hands of P.W. Botha's agents of aparhtied... This is an agonizing moment of reflection and there is no ready made answer!
This is what the media say.

Yes the people who were victims of P.W. Botha’s cruelty suffer…
Yes the majority of South African are utterly bereaved and sad…
for the burial of the Oppressor Botha is linked to the thousands deaths of the oppressed…

Yet we understand the gesture of our present authorities:
to be present at the funeral as a sign of on-going reconcialiation!
As a sign of political maturity
As a sign of good will towards the white population struggling
with its own guilt and past!

Storm and Peace

We painfully take a look at Jesus saying:

“Father, forgive them…” and we try to keep the
costly grace and peace in our heart
the costly grace and peace that our beloved Mandela and all the victims, living or dead,
won for us all, even for those we strive to forgive beyond death and dying…
Leaving to Abba, the judgement!

President Thabo Mbeki, whose governing African National Congress party was brutally
repressed during the turbulent years of Botha’s presidency, attended the funeral with his wife Zanele.

Former President FW de Klerk, the last white president of South Africa and the man who ousted Botha in bitter fight for the control of the National Party in 1989, sat next to Mbeki during the funeral service in the tiny resort town of George, where the Outeniqua Mountains reach down to the Indian Ocean.

Desmond Tutu
sent a message of condolences to Botha‘s wife Barbara and the rest of his family.

In his eulogy, Jordanian missionary Bahjat Batarseh told mourners that Botha had made mistakes,
that God had forgiven him and that now was the time to move on,
to learn from the past but not to dwell on it.
So help us God!

A Rainbow in the storm

Wednesday, November 01, 2006
P.W. Botha has passed away on Tuesday, October 31st 2006

APARTHEID strongman P W Botha, commonly known as the Groot Krokodil, died last night
at his Die Anker home near Wilderness. He was 90.

Pieter Willem Botha was born on January 12, 1916. He was prime minister of South Africa
from 1978 to 1984 and state president from 1984 to 1989.

Botha suffered a light stroke on January 18, 1989 and was succeeded as leader of the NP by De Klerk.
At a caucus meeting on August 14, 1989, he was asked to resign, and De Klerk became acting
State President the next day. He immediately embarked on a reform process which culminated
in the February 2, 1990, unbanning of the ANC and other organisations and the release
of Mandela a few days later.

He couldn’t say “sorry

Mbeki said: "On behalf of the government and people of South Africa, we express our heartfelt
condolences to his wife and the rest of the family, who have lost a husband, father and grandfather.
In this hour of need, our thoughts and prayers go to his family. May his soul rest in peace."

Mandela said:
"While to many Mr Botha will remain a symbol of apartheid, we also remember him for the steps
he took to pave the way towards the eventual peacefully negotiated settlement in our country,"
Botha's death should be a reminder of "how South Africans from all persuasions ultimately
came together to save our country from self-destruction".

This tyrant has met his Creator’s light of truth and love. He has met those thousands who suffered
and died under his iron rule of State Security policy. True, he never showed repentance!
True he remained “ crocodile like to the end…

If Mandela forgives in his people’s name, I think we too can try to say :
“Forgive, dear God as we forgive”.