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    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Upcoming Pope politics



    A planned papal trip to Turkey will be a critical test of Christian-Muslim relations, a top Roman Catholic official said Wednesday, citing a priest's slaying that a Vatican newspaper has linked to protests over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

    "Now (the trip) becomes very serious," Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's office for Christian unity.

    ...could use his scheduled visit in November to press Turkey to lessen restrictions on Christian churches and schools.

    ...promote efforts to close the nearly 1,000-year break with Orthodox churches.

    He said there are no discussions about a possible papal trip to Russia, but "we hope in the future it could be possible." Kirill said the Russian Church plans to host a meeting of representatives from all major faiths in Moscow before the Group of Eight summit in July in St. Petersburg. The Vatican will be represented "at a very high level, but not by the pope himself," he said.

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