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U.S. editorial excerpts -8-.

NEW YORK, Nov. 29 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the U.S. press:

MORE CATHOLIC THAN THE... (Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles)

TODAY, POPE BENEDICT XVI will meet in Turkey with a representative of a religious tradition whose sometimes violent differences with the Roman Catholic Church can be traced back to the Crusades. That personage is not, as one might think, a Muslim, but a Christian: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Although the Crusades were called to wrest back the Holy Land from Muslims, the Catholic foot soldiers in that ''holy war'' vandalized the sacred places of Orthodox Christians, looting Hagia Sophia, the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom, in Constantinople. (On Thursday, Benedict will visit Hagia Sophia, which was transformed into a mosque in the 15th century and is now a museum.)

News coverage of the pope's trip has focused on Catholic-Muslim relations, given the outrage in the Muslim world over a lecture in September in which Benedict quoted a medieval emperor who said Muhammad's teachings contained ''things only evil and inhuman.'' The visit also has been shadowed by the pope's opposition as a cardinal to the admission of Turkey into the European Union, a position he repudiated Tuesday.

Yet the religious purpose of the journey is to strengthen relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern churches that do not recognize the authority of the bishop of Rome.

Benedict will travel to Istanbul - the former Constantinople - to meet Patriarch Bartholomew, the ''first among equals'' among Orthodox prelates. After a service in the Orthodox cathedral, the two will sign a joint declaration. It's likely to be more substantive than a conversation in Rome last week between Benedict and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. That encounter, while cordial, ended with a communique noting that a reunion between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches faced ''serious obstacles,'' including the ordination of women as Anglican priests and the acceptance by some Anglican churches of openly gay clergy.

By contrast, the Eastern Orthodox Church, like the Roman Catholic Church, limits its priesthood to men, condemns homosexual relations and values traditional forms of worship. The affinities between the pope and the patriarch are theological, but they could have political consequences. Many of the churches that complain of oppression by Islamic governments (including the Orthodox Church in Turkey) have roots in Constantinople, not Rome. If the pope plans to be their champion, he will need to build bridges to Muslims as well as fellow Christians.

(Nov. 29)
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Dec 4, 2006
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