Celebration Outside Holy Spirit Cathedral
“I was very worried by all the negative news,” said Antuan Ilgit, a Turkish Jesuit seminarian studying in Rome who traveled to Turkey for the pontiff’s visit.
“Nobody wanted me to participate in the papal mass, because they thought there would be a bomb,” Turkish Catholic Teresa Tuzun told Compass in the courtyard outside the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Istanbul.
Joining a spontaneous Turkish folk dance in celebration of the pope’s coming, Tuzun said she had thrown caution to the wind. “I told them, ‘If you hear a bomb, know that I exploded with the pope.’”
Recurring anti-Christian media coverage and social discrimination against converts to Christianity from Islam had compounded fears among Turkey’s Catholics that the pope’s trip could end poorly.
“Unfortunately, people aren’t able to accept the fact that we are both Turkish and Catholic,” said one convert from Islam who requested anonymity for fear of losing his job. “They treat us as if we are traitors to our country. But we are Turks and we will stand by our state and our people until the end.”