Catholic Herald Correspondent
THE Turkish government has assured the World Council of Churches that the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul will remain inviolate, and likewise the person of the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras 1.
The World Council had protested rumours that the Petriarchaic was to be demolished for "town planning purposes". It was thought that this would be part of Turkey's move against the Orthodox community, in reprisal for the Cyprus situation. Two of the Patriarch's senior assistant Metropolitans were recently expelled from Turkey.
But the Turkish Foreign Minister also asked the World Council to take up with Archbishop Makarios the "planned massacre of defenceless Turks" in Cyprus. The Archbishop is head of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. which is autocephalons, and does not come under the Patriarchate in Istanbul.
Meanwhile, the text of the personal letter recently sent by Pope Paul to the Patriarch, has been published. ,It was delivered by Archbishop Martin of Rotten when he led a three-man mission from Rome to the Istanbul Patriarchate. It reads: "Most beloved brother in Christ, this letter will be delivered by our beloved brother, Mgr. Joseph Marie Martin, Archbishop of Rouen, who, accompat led by our sons. Mgr. Willebrands and Fr. Duprey, comes to Istanbul to tell you how vivid our memory is of our blessed meeting in Jerusalem, and how much we feel that it marked the beginning of a new era in the relations between the Holy See and the venerable Ecumenical Patriarchate,
"By this visit we wish to renew the kiss of peace exchanged on the Mount of Olives and to tell you anew how often your person. and that or your clergy and faithful, is present in our prayers.
"Moreover, we will he happy if this visit represents the occasion for a strengthening of the bonds already tied and for an examination by which they could be brought closer together.
"During these days, when you are preparing to celebrate the elorions and luminous feast of Easter. we pray our one Lord that His victory over sin and death may infuse in you an ever more lively hope . .
"May the risen Christ, by virtue of His death which has reconciled us with the Father. be our inspiration in our efforts to re establ;-b the unity of all those redeemed by Him and who believe in His name.
"With these feelings we call upon the Father of Light to grant to Your Holiness, to the members of Your Holy Synod, to your clergy and to your faithful the abundance of His grace, and we repeat again to you, most beloved brother, our very deep feeling or affection in our Lord."