Monday, November 27, 2006
Pope's Turkey trip spotlights religious tensions
Tonight we are broadcasting from Istanbul, one stop on Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey. Istanbul is a fascinating place, a city where East and West meet, literally. It's the only major city that sits on two continents. One side is in Europe, the other side Asia.

I'm sitting in a modern hotel right now listening to the call to prayer echoing from a nearby mosque. The oldest cliche in the news business is to call a place a "land of contrasts." It's a silly term, but I understand why writers fall back on it to describe this place. Ancient and modern, Islamic and Christian, democratic and autocratic -- it all exists side by side in Turkey, sometimes uneasily.

Though its track record on human rights is often criticized, Turkey is a stable, pro-western democracy that is officially secular. For some time now, the country has been trying to become part of the European Union, but it seems increasingly clear that some European countries have major concerns. Turkey is a poor nation by European standards, and it's 99 percent Muslim. Many Europeans are already concerned about assimilating their own Muslim minorities. The prospect of having some 70 million more Muslims entering the EU seems overwhelming.

Before he was Pope, then-Cardinal Ratzinger didn't support Turkey's bid for EU membership. His argument was that Europe is based on commonly held Christian beliefs, not simply geography. Combined with his recent comments about Islam, it would be easy to see why many here would be concerned about his visit. But what is actually surprising is how few people here seem disturbed by the Pope's presence.

An Islamist party called for a demonstration in Istanbul on Sunday. They expected more than 100,000 protestors, but only about 20,000 showed up. There are some extremists here to be sure. I just spent the morning with an Islamist lawyer who is defending a number of Turks accused of participating in a series of terrorist attacks in 2003 that killed more than 50 people.

As we were putting the microphone on him, I couldn't help but notice the gun he was carrying on his waist. During the interview, he called Osama bin Laden a freedom fighter and explained why suicide attacks were justified under his brand of Islam.

He and the men he represents hate the secular government of Turkey. They say the current prime minister was put in power by an alliance between the Pope and Israel, or maybe it was the Pope, Israel, and America -- I can't remember for sure (I'll have to check the tape) but you get the point.

His beliefs do not reflect the majority of Muslims in Turkey, but they do explain some of the tensions that exist here. The question is: What will the Pope try to do during his visit? Will he try to mend fences, and focus on the commonalities between Islam and Christianity, or will he respectfully talk about the differences? While many people here don't seem all that interested in his visit, they will be watching and listening closely.

What do you think the Pope should focus on while in Turkey? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 10:09 AM ET
  101 Comments
Hi Anderson,
The Pope's visit will certainly be an interesting one. I think the Pope should focus on beginning dialogue with Islamic leaders who are more moderate. I think if he makes an effort to show he is willing to meet and attempt to understand others, he will go a long way in joining the muslim community where they are. He will probably make more extreme factions angry no matter what he does, so he should probably focus on more moderate groups who represent a greater number of people.
Good luck!
Posted By Anonymous Pamina, Pittsford, New York : 10:47 AM ET
I think that that Pope should acknowledge the difference between Islam and Christianity, but that his primary focus should be on the commonalities. The people of Turkey may not be aware that there are similarities in the different religions that they practice and finding a common bond may allow each group to find respect and understanding of the others beliefs.
Posted By Anonymous Ryan, Phoenix AZ : 10:57 AM ET
The main reason for the papal visit is ecumenical. He is meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople . Every year since 1964 the Vatican & Constantinople have sent legates for the feasts of St. Andrew & St Peter & Paul on their respective feast days. It is part of the movement to bring the Orthodox & Catholics closer. The political issues are just a coincidence. This meeting has been in the works sine the Pope was elected in 2005.
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Palm Harbor , Florida : 11:01 AM ET
I am very excited about your coverage from Turkey in the coming week. As a Christian American student planning on studying in Istanbul next year I am interested to learn more about the country, the culture, and especially the people. I have never spent time in a Muslim country and I am very much looking forward to doing so. I was surprised by the Pope's comments over the summer, not so much for their content, but for his apparent lack of understanding. I think the most important thing the Pope or any of us can do is to simply listen. I believe it is not hatred that causes violence, but rather ignorance. I am sure that the pope is well versed on the scholarly aspects of Islam, but I'm not sure he understands the people or at least it appears that he does not. I certainly hope that the Pope's visit will be peaceful and that it will help to ease tensions between Islam and Christianity, but I think complete peace and harmony is a long way off. Thank you for covering this important story and as always, I hope that you and your crew remain safe.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly Miller, Hiram, OH : 11:15 AM ET
What does the Pope want to focus on?...that is the more important question.

He needs to clear up the confusion over the comments he quoted about Islam and stress the fact that he quoted those comments from old text. People need to understand that they weren't his thoughts but others thoughts from long ago.

Of course, as usual some won't want to listen to reason but it will be interesting to see what happens.
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 11:17 AM ET
Hi Anderson,
As a Catholic, I'd of course like to believe that Pope Benedicts's visit would be a hopeful time. But if he's received with indifference or hatred, then I don't know if they really want to hear the words that he brings. Perhaps if all stopped disrespecting each other that would be a start. We can't have a dialogue in an echo chamber. The first place I'd start is taking the word "infidels" and banning it once and for all from being spoken. Pope Benedict is in Turkey, I'd hope the Muslims meet him half way. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 11:19 AM ET
Even though it's the pope, I can't help but think he should leave religion out of it. I think it'd be better to just talk about the commonalities of everyone sharing the planet rather than focusing on the obvious thing causing the separation (religion). As mentioned in the earlier post, extremists are going to find fault in anything said because they're not interested in respecting differences in belief--it'd be more helpful to discuss the benefits of living together peacefully regardless of who's book you're reading.

Take care, Anderson!
Posted By Anonymous Dave Sumers, Tinley Park IL : 11:21 AM ET
I think the Pope should emphasize what should be the common thread in all religions: tolerance and acceptance. His comments about Islam were neither. Judging from those comments, he appears to draw few if any similarities between the two belief systems. Until he respects all religious beliefs, I don't see how he can convey any kind of positive message.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie Darby,Denham Springs, LA : 11:24 AM ET
Two things I was told to never get into conversations about was politics and religion. Yikes. The Pope's visit should be interesting indeed. What should he focus on? Mending fences for sure but also the commonalities. We are all only human right?
Posted By Anonymous Rachel-Albuquerque, NM : 11:25 AM ET
Hey Anderson,

I think the Pope should concentrate on the differences between Christianity & Islam. Globally, there needs to be line of communication between religions. There are some commonalities between religions,fine. But lets put the focus on the differences because that is where clashes happen. We need to talk about these differences(no, I'm not dreaming) and try to reconcile those differences or at least, respect them.
I think that the majority of sane people would agree with that. I have Muslims friends, I asked them to explain what I didn't understand or agree on. I respect it.
We tend to fear what we don't know. The focus is on Islam on a negative level because of the extremists. For the Pope to be so critical of Islam, is not helping.I'm tired of seeing religion tearing the world apart. There is good and bad in every religion. Catholicism and the intolerance towards homosexuality and the limited role of women makes me sick. Isn't the purpose of religion to be open and forgiving towards everybody?? I don't believe in a "GOd", it doesn't mean I don't believe. I prefer to educate myself on the different religions in the world.I respect each one's choice to whorship whom they want. What I don't respect, are the terrorists hiding behind religion to do their dirty,dispicable work.If the leaders of religions aren't able to sit down and have reasonable discussions,maybe it's time communities stand on their own and open the lines of communications.
I hope the Pope won't cite anymore texts, but will be able to talk on his own about the realities of our time. He can't rest only on old values. Even religions need to evolve.It's one of the ways we can start and mend fences. Well, Anderson, I wish you a nice stay in Turkey and I wish all of us the openess and the patience to talk about religions without prejudice.

Have a nice day
Joanne Ranzell
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne Ranzell Laval Quebec : 11:27 AM ET
Hello Andeson~
As a Catholic, I find Pope Benedict's visit to Turkey fasinating and I am so glad you are covering it. I think the Pope should MEND FENCES, MAKE PEACE, AND PRAY WITH THE MUSLIM LEADERS. Despite his own convictions, I believe that Pope Benedict should show enormous respect for other's beliefs. This is where the healing begins. I know this he is no John Paul, but I expect world leaders to have peace as a goal, especially a strong religious political leader like the Pope. I am reminded of the prayer of Saint Francis, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love". . . I'm anxious to see what happens. Thanks so very much Anderson!~
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 11:31 AM ET
hello Mr. Anderson Cooper still happy thanksgiving! well it is nice for all of us to see these two religion will talk. we should be very open for one another and respect everyones beliefs in life.
maybe Pope should focus about the war becuase it is really happening we can't deny it, if that issue won't come out from there lips well they're missing something.

Thank you Mr. Anderson Cooper for covering the visit of Pope in Istanbul, regards to all staff and crew of AC360.
it is nice to see your blog, it is a great way to start after a long weekend.
Posted By Anonymous Jemillex Bacerdo Chicago, IL. : 11:39 AM ET
finally AC is being found , i thought he is lost...long time no see ...

although I understand that the world religious leaders play an important role in world politics , I cannot believe that Pope Ratzinger didn't support Turkey's bid for EU membership, may be I do not want to believe....

I have a great respect for late Pope JP II whom I pray as a Saint ...but I know that he played a role too in world politics concerning Russia , Poland......but then I thought he was from Poland so he has a wound to heal....

kind of looking forward to your telecast tonight....good luck..
Posted By Anonymous Rupa , Boston ,MA : 11:42 AM ET
I hope he talks about peace: between religions, countries, people. These religious leaders have so much influence with their followers; why haven't they taken a stand for peace? I hope the Pope is sincere and wants to build bridges, and not cause any more controversy. If everyone worships the same God, believes in loving their neighbor as themselves, then why can't we get along?

Thanks for all your hard work, and great reporting Anderson. I've missed you over this holiday!

Linda
Boulder, Colorado
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 11:42 AM ET
Hi Anderson,
The Pope should focus his speech on the topic of Peace. Peace between all cultures and all religions. As a Catholic, the Catholic faith, and, I believe, most religions, preach Peace, because it is a universal language. Perhaps this simple topic may gain the attention of the Turkish leaders as well as all world leaders. Thank you, as always, for your unbiased reporting. Lisa
Posted By Anonymous Lisa E. Brown, Buffalo Grove, Illinois : 11:52 AM ET
His holiness should speak at the level of a schoolchild, for the portion of his forthcoming "speech" and
when he re-hashes the portion of his speech which was
leveled at the upper eschelons of learning.
Only then, will he make the ignorant "possibly" understand that he was only "quoting" someones writings. If he continues to speak at his normal level of communication, he will accomplish nothing.
Whenever I have had issues with true illiterates - I was never understood - UNTIL - I spoke very very basic - almost grammar school-like. I was stunned at the
"new comprehension" level of these people.
He should learn to scale back his intellect but let the press know so that when they report back, they could speak of his "desire to reach everyone". Seriously,
one doubts a man of his intellect could accomplish the task of scaling back to the level of the most vocal of these "demonstrators/trouble-lovers.
Posted By Anonymous Elissa M. Landi, Chicago, Il : 12:06 PM ET
Anderson,

I will be interested to watch your coverage on this, as usual. I do not believe that this is the right Pope to begin the rapprochement. Not simply because of what he said at his conference in Germany but because this Pope is extremely conservative and foremost, a scholar. Rapprochement, especially over a situation that dates back millennia, can only be achieved through the heart, not through theology, which itself is rife with prejudice and hatreds on all sides.

I do not believe it is the right time to make such advances at a religious level either. It will be interpreted by the different factions with the light they wish to place on it and in some cases, add fuel to fires that are already ablaze as a result of geopolitical short sightedness of world �leaders�, Russia in Chechnya, the US in the Middle East and both in Afghanistan.

My belief is Pope Benedict has accepted the invitation of the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I to raise the profile of Christianity in Turkey rather than extend an open dialogue with the majority Muslims. He will enjoy his travels in the once great Byzantium Empire by visiting Christian holy places, paying lip service to Islamic shrines.

I will be watching�
Posted By Anonymous Robin, Montreal, Canada : 12:06 PM ET
My compliments on an objective and perceptive representation of the atmosphere in Turkey.
The Pope is on a "friendship" tour, a tour that is supposed to bring different sides together by explaining, understanding, and respecting each other's differences.
The Pope should not be a political figure (although history does not support this statement!) but an emissary in search of peace (we hope).
The Pope should be a very careful "diplomat", weighing each statement and its potential interpretations before he blurts them out as he did this summer. Of course the reaction to what he said was exaggerated, but still, he needs to be more careful with sensitive subjects.
It's not easy to be the Pope.
The Pope should also realize that Turkish Moslems practice a different Islam (Sunni) than the Moslems of Arabic ancestry (Shiite) mostly due to the absorption of Arabic customs into Islam being practiced by Arabic people and often erroneously assumed to be Islamic doctrine.
This confusion over Arabic custom vs. Islamic doctrine is what is causing a lot of the current problems being experienced around the world with Islam.
For example, by Islamic doctrine, one should treat guests in one's house (country) as honored visitors, cherish and protect them, not kidnap and murder them.
The Pope should realize that, even though some elements of the Arabic influence are creeping into Turkey, Turks basically respect and honor all religions and the freedom to practice them.
Therefore, the Pope ought to emphasize and publicize this fact and somehow try to promote the same views elsewhere.
.........but then, when did humans ever live in peace with each other?

Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Lale Paterson, Richmond, VA : 12:07 PM ET
I think the Pope usually lacks diplomacy on any subject he talks about. However, he must be in Turkey to calm down the conflict he has started, and I suppose he'd better be convincing. His opinion is important to all the Catholics in Europe who don't know what feeling to have towards our Muslim minorities. As the head of a small but crucial state, he should strongly recommend tolerance and dialogue.
Posted By Anonymous Gabrielle, Toulouse, France : 12:08 PM ET
Guys:

The "When Faiths Collide" theme is very misleading. Are journalists about the truth or not?

do you think you could give like 2 minutes to the REAL purpose of this visit, which is to meet with the Orthodox Patriarch? Perhaps deepen ties that would lead to full communion at some point in the not too distant future? That might strengthen the Church in Turkey, which is being terribly oppressed by the Turkish government????
Posted By Anonymous Ellen, Cleveland, Ohio : 12:11 PM ET
Thank you for mentioning some key focal points surrounding the Pope's visit to Turkey. However, it appears the initial purpose and major focus of the Pope's trip has been largely ignored by the media. The main reason of the Pope's trip was not to reach out to Muslims, though he will and should do this after the recent misunderstood controversies, but to meet with the Ecunemical Patriarch of Constantinople and the Orthodox Churches who resides in present-day Istanbul. The Pope wants to continue the dialogue of his predecessor and ultimate hopes of reconciliation between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Yet, it appears much of the media believes its "more exciting" to report about the angry fundamentalist aspect by Islamist extremists and protestors, and what seems to be their news-baiting affairs on this papal trip. Therefore, I think the Pope, and the media for that matter, should focus slightly more on the rift between Rome and Constantinople rather than Muslim and Christian. Thank you Anderson, and superb journalism!
Posted By Anonymous Steve Meszaros, Miami FL : 12:13 PM ET
As Istanbul stands as the gateway between Europe/Asia, East and West, I hope the Pope will take the oppotunity to not focus on differences but on the common values that unite people, regardless of religion or belief. A call for tolerance would be nice.

Have a great time. If you need some reading material for the flight home, I would recommend The Flea Palace by Elif Shafak. The book is set in Istanbul and is a great read.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Canterbury, UK : 12:15 PM ET
Hello Anderson!
I hope the Pope does good this time by focusing on the issues that need to be addressed. Actions are more important than words and comments so let's see some positive action taking place. Turkey is such a remarkable country. Being of Greek decent, I look at how much it has changed throughout history. One thing that makes Turkey stand out is how eventhough it's 99% Muslim it's a FUNCTIONING Muslim country. Maybe the other islam nations should focus on what Turkey is doing and do the same!
Posted By Anonymous Emma, Malvern, Pennsylvania : 12:19 PM ET
I think the Pope should focus on the commonalities between Islam and Christianity. They are both Monotheistic religions. Muslims believe in one God, they believe in Jesus, and the virgin Mary. yes there are some differences, among other things, Muslims beleive that Jesus is a prophet of God, not son of God. But, still the similarities are much greater than the differences and that is what the Pope should focus on.
Posted By Anonymous Mehdi, Winter Park Florida : 12:27 PM ET
Hi Anderson...it's good to see you back...AC360 isn't the same show without you.

Sometimes it seems as though the differences between Islam and Christianity are insurmountable, but as long as there is open dialog between the two, there is hope.

While I certainly understand the concerns of the European Union accepting Turkey as a member, the differences should be worked out by politicians, not religious figures.

The Pope should focus his visit on creating common ground between the two religions. I don't think it would be a good thing for the Pope to get involved in the political differences between Turkey and the European Union. This Pope is a polarizing figure who could do more harm than good with the political situation.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 12:34 PM ET
Having been born and raised in the Roman Catholic faith I have seen many things that have gone on in the Church, some I agree with, some I do not - I love the English Mass, but feel the Church still has a long way to go when it comes to dealing with non Catholics/Christian.

Pope Benedict and most of the Church's hierarchy are from the old school - if you aren't Catholic you don't count in God's eye. They live by what they were taught to believe and most don't take into account that the world is changing and must be factored into the equation of tolerance. The remarks Pope Benedict made regarding Muslims was based on old religious information, which he probably didn't give a second thought to because it was what a religious scholar had said and so it was "truth".

What should Pope Benedict try to do during his visit? Get to know the real Muslim people, not those that were from history. Talk to people as John Paul did, but most of all listen.

Anderson isn't the Call to Prayer one of the most beautiful sounds ever. Though I do not understand the words it is still very powerful. The local Muslim community is opening a mosque in my city and people protested the Call to Prayer being announced over a PA system, ultimately it has been decided it will not. It may not be real religious intolerance, but it does give the Freedom of Religion doctrine a slap in the face.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Warren Mi : 12:34 PM ET
Anderson,

What should the Pope focus on? The sameness of the Catholics and Muslims.

Let's review the 2 similarities.......

1. Women and children have no voice, no roles and are expected to live in poverty while the men are the authority.

2. Gays and lesbians have no place in the church and the Muslim culture.

I am thankful the Pope or the Muslims are influencing my life in their thoughts and words. Once they change their voice on these 2 issues, then maybe I will open my heart, my soul and my mind to listening more. Until then, I will remain close to God in a religion that welcomes everyone.
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 12:43 PM ET
Sadly this Pope has a history of exclusion - not just to people of other faiths but even to those within the catholic church. I had hoped for a more inclusionist stance once he became Pope. His lack of sensitivity and understanding was apparent in his choice of the quotation about Islam in September. (Perhaps the Vatican needs some "sensitivity training"!)
JPII was a unifying force and practiced the ideals of ecumenism.... but on Ratzingers recommendation excommunicated several priests who supported and preached the true values of Christ in third world countries. Notably Father Tissa Balasuriya from Sri Lanka who was a leading light in the ecumenical and human rights movements. (one of my heroes!)
The Pope should focus on trying to find common ground with the leader of the orthodox church and not "potificate" to the masses about their personal expressions of faith.
Posted By Anonymous Sherene, Los Angeles, CA : 12:50 PM ET
Hi Anderson, It will be interesting to see if religious leaders will be able to refrain from any further inflammatory statements. Also, will there be a better way to foster more respect and understanding of the purposes of Jesus and Muhammad in both religions? The foreign film "Yol" (1982) directed by S.Goren and Y.Guney, although depressing, provides some insight into the history of Turkey,its people and their religions & culture. Unfortunately,there's also a long history of conflict as to whom is chosen as Turkey's prime ministers. Hope you all stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Carol B. Frederick, MD : 12:55 PM ET
Anderson,

As a Protestant, I honestly am not influenced by anything the Pope says or does. However, given the misunderstanding that occurred, whatever the Pope says he should be very careful and try not to say anything that can be miscontrued. Perhaps he should listen to the advice in James 1:19 "...Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak..."

As an aside note, my daughter visited Turkey two years ago and loved it. She found the people gracious and welcoming. One of her friends left her wallet on a bus and they had to take a ferry and leave before it was found. The bus company said they would contact the driver, find the wallet and send it to her at her university in Germany. They thought, right, and cancelled the cards, etc. Well, lo and behold her wallet was sent to her with all the cash and credit cards inside. Would have happened in the US? Food for thought.

I look forward to the broadcast tonight. We missed you. Hope you had a relaxing week off.
Posted By Anonymous Charlotte Doisy, Stockton CA : 12:56 PM ET
Everybody talks about the politics surrounding the Pope's visit to Turkey, but I suspect only a few truly understand it. Regardless of what he said as Cardinal, he is now the the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, and will focus on the core beleifs of all Christians. He has no political agenda typical of a Head of State, but rather will discuss social justice, love between Muslims and Christians, and the dignity of all human beings granted to us by God.
Posted By Anonymous George, San Mateo, California : 12:57 PM ET
Anderson--

I was raised Roman Catholic, but have always had an interest in other religions, especially Islam. I would tell people that, that I'm Catholic, but researching Islam, and I'd get the weirdest looks...those are two things that don't necessarily go together. Even here, in a country where religious freedom is paramount.

As far as the Pope's visit...yes, he made an apology, but it was not one that the Muslims accept, because it was very clearly manufactured by The Vatican itself, not the Pope.

I don't believe that the Pope is infallible, like we are taught to believe. He's very obviously capable of making mistakes, just like the rest of us. I think he needs to make a full, heartfelt apology for the misunderstanding that his words garnered, not an apology that's two lines, and totally manufactured by someone behind the scenes at the Vatican.

I was raised, by my family (and they're all devout Catholics) to ALWAYS respect other people's religions and beliefs...be their beliefs based in Christianity or not. It's sad to see that this tolerance is falling away, even at the highest levels.

Take care; stay saf
Posted By Anonymous Mandy, Boston MA : 1:03 PM ET
As the recent past has shown, it in not possible to discuss anything contraversial with Islam. They are highly emotional people and tend to be violent with very very little provication. He is going to have to be extremely careful what he says. This is unfortunate, as an honest exchange will be impossible, and therefore very little can be acomplished if we can't be candid. But maybe just being in the same room making an effort to diolouge would maybe open some doors. I only hope that he is not hurt in any way by an extremest, that would surely make matters far worse. To be honest with you I don't think much good will come of this visit. Islam is just to hard to deal with let's face it.
Posted By Anonymous G DeMarco , Cape Coral , Florisa : 1:11 PM ET
What is there to "dialogue" about? Islam believes (the Koran says) that Christians and Jews are the descendants of "apes and pigs". The Koran calls Christians "the vilest of creatures", denies the divinity of Christ, mocks the Trinity, etc.

So what exactly is a dialogue going to accomplish? This is a religion that shoots priests and 70 year old nuns in the back and thinks they're doing God's will.

Islam isn't interested in a dialogue, except a one-way dialgoue, Islam is only interested in asserting itself above other religions. Period. Christians and other religious minorities are treated terribly in Turkey and every other Muslim dominated country. The Pope should confront Islam on its abominable record and demand protection for Christian minorities in Muslim nations.

We need more confrontation with Islam not "dialogue".
Posted By Anonymous Scott, East Bay, CA : 1:15 PM ET
I hope that Pope's visit in Turkey will have positive results. Firstly, it is important, for religious leaders, to improve the so-called Inter-religious dialogue. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople is in favour of this dialogue and so the Pope Benedict seems to be. It is a chance for Turkey and its government to contribute to the mutual understanding between religions, between Christianity and Islam.
Posted By Anonymous Nickolaos Mottas, Paris, France : 1:19 PM ET
Hi Anderson,

Thanks so much for bringing us such an interesting story. I am a Christian, however, not Catholic. Therefore, do not believe in a man having the ability to forgive sins such as the Pope. But, I am still interested in seeing how history unfolds, in this extraordinary event that you will present us tonight.

Thanks for your profesionalism, and for presenting the news as every reporter should, in an impartial way.

God bless and be safe!
Posted By Anonymous Yaneth, Guttenberg, New Jersey : 1:19 PM ET
I just spent time in Dubai, and it was quite interesting to see old religion in the mix with the new expansion. You certainly don't see churches sprinkled through hi-tech trade shows, and modern airports like I did mosques in Dubai. It is quite a site to someone as green as I was to the Middle East.

In Turkey, the Pope should focus on uniting the grassroot Christians and Muslims. Morally speaking, Christians and Muslims share a lot in common. The Pope will have to show that men of different faiths can share the same love for one another, and together can bring growth and prosperity to a region devastated by religious radicals.
Posted By Anonymous Schuyler Deerman, Berlin, Germany : 1:23 PM ET
Hi Anderson,

I am an American Catholic and am married to a Turk. I am very interested to see what the Pope's visit will bring - I hope he speaks to the people of Turkey with hope and respect, and treats them with the same tolerance he hopes to receive in return. I do not think the Pope should focus on differences. We already have enough of that going around (In my opinion it is done in a very irresponsible way that sensationalizes and glorifies that which should not be.)

I am troubled by a previous comment by someone who said, "the people of Turkey may not be aware that there are similarities in the different religions that they practice". I hope I have just misunderstood this person, because it sounds terribly ignorant and narrow-minded. I spent 3 weeks in Turkey over the summer and have Turkish friends there and here in the US. Every Turk that I know is very respectful of Christianity and particularly of Jesus, whom they see as a great prophet and teacher. Though much of Turkey is poor, the majority of it's population resides in or in close proximity to large cosmopolitan cities. These people are educated and cultured, and are a lot more tolerant towards other cultures than many in the US may realize. I think you were right to point out that while 20,000 people protested the Pope's visit, it is far less than the 100,000 expected. I know 20,000 people sounds like a lot to most Americans, but that's out of a total population of 70 million. Also, the people of Turkey are much more civically-minded than most Americans. This kind of protest is a lot more common over there. Here in the US, that kind of civic action is labeled a "phenomenon" and hasn't been seen since the late 60's/early 70's.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your stay there. While in Istanbul, be sure to check out the "underwater palace". And may I also suggest a piece on St. Nicholas's Church? Yes, that's St. Nick as in Santa Claus. It's in the south-western part of the country, near the ancient city of Myra and not too far from the Mediterranean Sea (I don't recall the name of the town, sorry.). A lot of Christian tourists go there, it would be interesting with the holidays coming up. Just a suggestion...

Best Regards....
Posted By Anonymous Mary, Orange, CA : 1:24 PM ET
Actions speak louder than words. When Pope John Paul II kissed the Quran in Syria, this act made him popular amongst the Muslims. Pope Benedict XVI doesn't have to go to this length to try to find some semblance of reconciliation, but it will serve him well to find his own way to genuinely express his desire to find a common ground between Christianity and Islam, and to continue his predecessor's efforts in uniting people of all faiths. Not all Muslims are extremists. In my opinion, (as long as you're not worshipping the other side), whatever our religion is, we worship the same God, a God of love and forgiveness. If we truly try to be like the God we worship, we will ask each other for forgiveness, offer forgiveness to those who have offended us, and work together to find peace.
Posted By Anonymous Lilibeth, Edmonds, WA : 1:34 PM ET
Anderson: Since you asked, I think that the Pope should focus on mending his relationship with those whom he offended with his comments last September. As a starting point, he should meet and apologize to those leaders who are an influence within the country, whether they are religious or political. This is really no different than what Michael Richards is trying to do. How successful will he be? That will depend on how well the Islamists believe the Pope's apology and whether they are open to forgiving him. Whether it is 100,000 people or 20,000 people protesting him, he needs to address this and let them know his sincerity. I'll say a little prayer for the Pope....he's gonna need it this week!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 1:36 PM ET
Anderson,
As a non-Catholic, progressive Christian (I guess that is politically-correct meaning not fundamentalist), I have a problem with the Catholic Pope speaking for all Christians especially when ancient passages are spoken to devalue the Islam religion and past statements about EU�s segregation from Turkey were recommended.

Also, is the refusal to connect Turkey with the EU about politics and the fear of terrorism or is it just hundreds of years of religious wars still embedded in the two cultures? Or maybe it is both?

To answer the question, I guess I would like the Pope�s focus to be on acceptance. Though a complicated term itself, it covers both similarities and differences. In other words, both can stand alone but each may be respected and endured without protest. Am I making any sense?

I commend CNN and AC360 for covering what could be a very complex and complicated forum.

Stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon D, Indianapolis, IN : 1:41 PM ET
The Pope must accept the domination of Islam and his own dhimmitude. Nothing else will satisfy Muslims.

"Dialogue" is a complete waste of time. What could the true believers ever learn from a kaffir?
Posted By Anonymous George, St. Louis, MO : 1:47 PM ET
It is a tradition that those popes who oppose dialoge with islam take the name Benedict, so we really should not expect much progress during the time of Mr.Ratzinger. Everbody knows that this visit is not about dialogue with islam, but about the question of supremacy between the Orthodox church and the Catholic church. The Patriarch Bartholomeos in Istanbul is effective over 200 million Orthodox christians world wide. This of course is not acceptable by the pope. Making the visit look like an attempt for increasing relations between Christianity and Islam is nothing more than giving a toy to the general public to play with. It takes a great determination to find out what a 14th century Byzantian Emperor fighting as a colonial governor under the Ottoman rule against another Anatolian Turkish ruler, supposedly have said against Islam among the Muslims. If this Pope does not increase the tensions, we should only be thankful. Let us pray.
Posted By Anonymous Osman, Denton, TX : 1:47 PM ET
If an attack occurs on against the Pope during his visit to Turkey, it would hurt the standing of Muslims in the world. Islamic extremists can not and should not control the future of Islam. The use of violence, to prove or move a view forward, must end. Civilalized society will not be able to take a violent attack against the Pope a Spiritual and World Leader. It would be worse than the attacks of 9/11.
Posted By Anonymous D Quinn, Columbus, Ohio : 1:49 PM ET
Sometimes I wish that aliens would invade our world to unite humanity. We have been divided throughout history for one thing or another (e.g., race, religion, wealth, etc.). We ignore what is not convenient for us and make everything that disagrees with out point of view our enemy. If the food supply of the world was nearly wiped-out it would unite humanity as well ... at least for a while. It sometimes takes survival to distract predators long enough to get along. I guess as soon as the threat was over, we would find a path to war again. Welcome to humanity. Extinction seems inexplicably linked with evolution. It's only a matter of time.
Posted By Anonymous Jonathan Robinson, Houston - Texas : 1:55 PM ET
To Joanne of Quebec~
"There is good and bad in every religion. Catholicisn and the intolerance towards homosexuality and the limited role of women makes me sick."
I am a Catholic because of the history of the church and mainly because the Catholic church is where I find God. I don't feel intolerance in my church towards homosexuality and I certainly believe in women' rights. Check out other religions on these issues. I have gay friends and many friends of ecumenical faiths, Christian and otherwise. OK~ I'm a flaming liberal Catholic but if the church should change these issues then there goes the history. It would no longer be Catholic but Episcopalian or Anglican. I feel the Catholic church as a whole has a great respect for others. Regardless of faith, religion is where you find YOUR God, spirituality, and peace and this should be our common thread throughout the world.
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 2:00 PM ET
I find myself not to far from Turkey (in BCN actually), the Popes visit is not big news, even in this Catholic country which itself is showing signs of anti-imigration, mostly anti-muslim imigration.
Everyone seems to speak of tolerance, across Europe, but truly in actuallity it does not translate into everyday life. Perhaps the meeting between the Pope and the Islamic clerics will show that it can be done, but you truly have to want it.
Posted By Anonymous Eva, Barcelona Spain : 2:00 PM ET
I honsetly believe that there will forever be friction between the two great religions.Religious issues cannot stay hidden for very long. The purpose of the visit should be aimed religious toleration.
Posted By Anonymous Olufunso, Corpus Christi, TX : 2:10 PM ET
Forget religious viewpoints and "official church positions." It is high time for everyone to begin to relate as human beings who believe in a higher being.

I am a Catholic Christian who is sometimes embarrased by the statements that come from Rome and sometimes frightened by the statements that come from Muslim clerics. American leaders fall into the shameful catagory also.

Listen to the average person and maybe this world could find a way to peace.
Posted By Anonymous Deborah Maszka Pembine, WI : 2:11 PM ET
Dear Anderson,

Its refreshing to read your blog after what seems ages. Wish you and your team a safe and fruitful stay in Turkey- and I am hoping for a positive outcome from the Pope's visit to this beautiful country.
I would love to set my foot on the only city that has her land on both Europe and Asia.

I believe the Pope's remarks on Prophet Mohammed, -even though they were not personal and was culled out from history- that set off a world-wide inflammatory reaction from the Islamic world, was not a judicious approach to dealing with the already unstable situation in the Muslim atmosphere that we see today; the Sunni-Shia Iraq conflict, the incessant conflict that we see between Palestine, Lebanon and Israel and the ongoing genocides operated by the Arab militias in Africa, and of course not to say the least- the merciless acts of terrorism trapping thousands of innocents globally.

The world of Islam definitely is in a serious turmoil, but despite this the Pope needed to deliver his message in a softer way, in a way that the common man would be able to understand, to empathize with, to reflect on, to enable to blend the divide and the conflict between the religions that entrap our world today.

The Pope needs to deliver a message to reinforce an apology to the Muslim world, to accept and respect all religions for what they are, as the Pope would himself, for only a small percentage of the Muslim world that inflict their deadly terrorism around the world belong to radical Islam. The people of Islam belong to a beautiful and peaceful community by and large and are no different than the people who belong to other religions.

The Pope may also want to talk about issues relating to the inclusion of Turkey as part of the European Union, for the inclusion of Turkey in the EU should not be based on religious differences. I think the Pope- being the higest representation of his religon- needs to look beyond the religion of Christianity or the religion of Islam, or for that matter any other religion, to accord a peace that will bring two major conflicting religions together, as two peoples that are looked after by one God.

I think a fresh, new approach to the Pope's thinking, particularly during this crucial trip which he has so courageously chosen to undertake, -given the protests and unwelcome attitude of some of the Turkish population- will go a long way in bringing harmony around the world.

By the way I am neither Muslim nor am I Christian. Given this day and age, I prefer to call myself belonging to a universal faith. To accept people of all religions for who they are, because isn't religion mostly about the nature of the human soul?
Posted By Anonymous Rekha, Fremont, CA : 2:14 PM ET
Hi Anderson,

I come from a mixed religous background. My mom is Catholic, my dad is Protestant, I was in an Evangelical group in grad school, and my friends are Baptist, Jewish, Hindu, and Muslem. I'm really greatful to have that kind of mix in my life, I have learned so much, it's been great!

The Pope has already done something very important, letting his actions speak. He didn't run from a conflict, he's coming to the table to talk about it, and his actions are already speaking volumes. I know from my own experience that you come to understand another's point of view on the topic of religion if you share your views in an open dialogue and look on it with learning and compassion. Isn't that what Jesus did anyway? He went right where the hotspots were, and got people talking.

In discussions I have had with people of various faiths, I came away much more enlightened, and amazed by the common principals of loving your neighbor, respecting others,and honoring God that are common to all faiths. I have chosen Christianity as my path, and hope others find it too, but I respect anybody who is at least thinking about the possibility of something larger than their own self interests. I think the Pope is doing the right thing: getting to the table and trying to understand. That's the tradition that John Paul started, and it's nice to see that it is being carried on. What a potential here for healing this gaping wound in our world! I hope he encourages further discussions between Christians and Muslems.
Posted By Anonymous Jill , Pittsburgh PA : 2:41 PM ET
Hello Anderson,

The town that, Mary mentions in her comment above, where St.Nicholos' church is located is called "Kale". It is roughly 200 kms west of Antalya.

As a Turk, I am curios on what you're going to show about Istanbul. I know that this program is about the Pope's visit and the tension its creating but I hope you will not let extremists hi-jack your show. As you've indicated in your commentary Turkey and especialy Istanbul is a place of mixed cultures and deep history. In a way Istanbul has the spectrum of all walks of people (ultra-religious to modern) managing to live together. As you've indicated in your commentary you can be on the terrace of a modern hotel enjoying the view of the Bosphorus and having a drink while you hear the call for prayer from the mosque next door.

I hope you'll be able to show the different facets of Istanbul and not just the protests.

Cheers,
Posted By Anonymous Safak, Calgary, Alberta : 2:51 PM ET
Hello America,
happy Thanksgiving
I'm a Turkish guy when Pope John Paul visited Istanbul at late 70's I was the first kid who welcomed him and kissed his hand (this is a tradition in our cultur) I'm writing this from Istanbul which they called "The Beauty Of The Seven Peaks"
As a Muslim, I grove up in a Christian neigborhood I know personaly the Orthodox Patriarch "Bartelemeos Arhondoni" as a big brother.
I think the Americans needs to learn something about Turks and the Turkiye, I can see that even Andersen Cooper has a little knowledge about us.
Yes Turkey is a %99 Muslim country but %89 of that percentage are modern and well educated, our ancestors "Ottoman Turks" who ruled this region for about 800 years, we lived in peace there was no difference between Christians, Muslims and the others, did you know that? when the Turks conquered the Constantinapol at 1453 the Ottoman King "Sultan Mehmet's" first anouncement was to the people "I know you are scared now, but do not be, because you are free to do what ever you used to and you are free to beleive whatever you want to beleive, no one can not touch your Curches and Sinagogs"
I think this words will give you to the Americans the point of wiew of the Turks.
I beleive the Popes visit a positive recovery start point for the comments he gave before, I also beleive the Turks wil show him their famous traditional hospitality.
I'd like to say, I'm so sorry about the soldiers who are dying for nothing,
I'm so sorry about the innocent people who are dying for wrong judgement because of a religious leader.
There is always some extremist in everyvhere, so we have some too, before to judge another cultur please try to learn something abut them and than make a decision, look at your President what kind of mess he created then do the math.
Best Regards to all Americans
Posted By Anonymous Kenan, Istanbul Turkiye : 2:55 PM ET
I think it will be more of the same. Nothing can be done to compromise with a 'people' who would rather be 'dead than
wrong'. I also do not believe the Pope has
courage enough to take the political stand necessary to say 'If your religion is non-violent stand up to your radical brothers and help end the killing'.
D.W.
St. Louis, Mo.
Posted By Anonymous Darcy Weinstein St. Louis, Mo. : 2:58 PM ET
He should focus on visiting historical places where Christianity started and where apostile Paul travelled. Not everything should be about Muslims sheesh
Posted By Anonymous Kay, Phoenix AZ : 3:09 PM ET
The pope should focus on repairing the damage he has done from making his remarks that inflamed the Muslims. Not all Muslims are extremists. I believe they are capable of forgiving if he makes another apology, one that's from the heart.
Posted By Anonymous Lilibeth, Edmonds, WA : 3:09 PM ET
Hi Anderson, It is my hope that the pope will focus on Unity and God's love for all people. I was raised in a strict Catholic home and we were brain washed to believe that unless you were Catholic you salvation was in question. Thank God, I don't believe that any more.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn, MI : 3:14 PM ET
Dear Anderson,

Welcome back, I hope you had an enjoyable holiday!

Although I was raised a Catholic, I do not adhere to any one religion at this time. However, I do have some strong feelings about this Pope and his visit to Turkey. I can't say I was happy with the selection of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope because I felt he would destroy any progress made by John Paul II, who coincidentally, as I am sure you know, was the first pontiff to visit a mosque in an Islamic country. I believe Benedict, like George Bush, will always play to his base. Unlike John Paul II who at least attempted to reach out to people of other faiths, this Pope seems more interested in exclusion than inclusion. The Pope's efforts to distance himself from the style of John Paul II will only alienate him from moderate and liberal Catholics as well as from the leaders of other religions.

Although I don't think it will have much effect on the extremists, Pope Benedict needs to begin by working with the moderates to mend fences due to his careless quotation on September 12. Of course he should focus on the commonalities between the two religions, but the differences must also b acknowledged without being comdemned. A dialogue must begin and tolerance and respect on both sides must be present before anything can hope to be accomplished. It is not a hopeful sign that Prime Minister Erdogan still seems to be debating about any kind of meeting with the Pope. Will he or won't he? Have you heard anything more? Have any of the Pope's people told you what they hope to accomplish in Turkey?

We need to acknowledge that there are positives and negatives in all religions and we should make decisions in our lives with that in mind.

I thank you and the producers of "360" and CNN for giving quality time to another controversial, but important subject. Take care.

Jo Ann
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 3:25 PM ET
While I don't think that everyone will one day unite and hold hands while singing Kumbayah, I do think inflammatory remarks like those uttered by His Holiness are dangerous-regardless of who he was quoting. And that pathetic excuse for an apology was actually funny. The Pope is supposed to be the most highly regarded representative of Catholicism-that's why his attitude is worrisom. He can't teach what he doesn't believe, and he is much too conservative. I hope he doesn't spew another verbal enema on us-but those seem to be prevalent these days. Maybe everyone needs to find their Zen place.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie Darby, Denham Springs, LA : 3:27 PM ET
Greetings!

First of all I'd like to say "thank you" to all of the previous posts who have acknowledged Turkey as an influential, respectable and modern Muslim country. Being a young Turkish woman living in the US for over 20 years, I consider myself American as well as Turkish. It is often hard for me to associate with just one nationality and culture. At the same time, I think it allows me to be a bit more objective on issues such as this one. Therefore, my stance on the Pope and his visit is somewhat two-sided.

To clarify further, I am not religious, in fact I am Agnostic. I was brought up in a very liberal Muslim family. Today, I choose not to define my beliefs by any one religion but by my feelings of gratitude, respect, and love for other human beings and the world as a whole.

The Pope's visit to Istanbul seems a step in the right direction towards achieving a better understanding of the differences between Islam and Christianity and attempting to comprehend what we often misinterpret. HOWEVER, the realist in me doesn't think that this visit will do any such thing.

This visit, will do nothing more than agitate the fundamentalist groups both in Islam and Christianity, and make those more secular, like myself, take a deep breath, and say "here we go again." The Muslims are still upset by the Pope's earlier comments this year regarding Islam, and the strict Catholics will no doubt find this trip to be an unnecessary one just to "show face." Before visiting a Muslim country, the Pope should perhaps take some time to reassess and re-evaluate his previous discriminatory opinions on Islam and talk about them openly with his followers in an effort to teach tolerance and acceptance. This would prove far more respectable than taking a trip to Turkey and simply visiting a mosque.

This visit boasts nothing of sincerity but much more of an effort to appease the masses and make superficial amends. If the intention is righteous, I support it completely. Yet I find it hard to believe that the actual motivation behind this trip is to bridge any type of spiritual gap but rather one just to pretend that strides are being made towards progress. Politics. Let's call a spade a spade, shall we?
Posted By Anonymous Zeynep, New York, NY : 3:33 PM ET
I believe that the Pope's trip will be to open a dialog between Islam and Christianity, just as it should between Orthodox and Catholics. This won't happen in one visit, but a journey begins with the first step. His efforts deserve our support.
Posted By Anonymous Joe Gillis, Adamsville, TN : 3:33 PM ET
Certainly the Pope should emphasize the commonality of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. All three religions have their common root in Abraham. The lessons from Abraham and those that followed all look toward the same one God, but each religion has a distinct set of customs and beliefs in this one God. It is interesting as well that Abraham (according to the Old Testament) came originally from a land which is now Iraq - a center of religious and political difficulty. Perhaps a focus on our commonalities can help reduce tensions between these three religions as well as within the individual sects that have developed within them.

I am pleased that the Pope is focussing his efforts on something more useful now than who in the U.S. can wash a challice after Mass.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Edinboro, Pennsylvania : 3:40 PM ET
I have always been of the opinion that all religions are basically the same, much as the Earth is divided by continents, they are still part of the same Earth.

Unfortunately it seems that one's interpretation is the deciding factor, and those who would use the "Supreme Creator's" name to further their own agenda have great control over those of lesser means and education.

I think it might be wise to stick with the similiarities rather than the differences. Aren't the differences the reason this goes on?

There is one thought that went through my mind when I heard about the 62yr old female suicide bomber. Young boys are promised a quick trip to heaven to find 72 virgins awaiting their arrival. So what does the Grandmother get?

YTT
Maggie

BTW-Your loyal fans welcome you back!
Posted By Anonymous Maggie, Grain Valley, MO : 3:44 PM ET
Mr. Cooper,

You write "Will he (the Pope) try to mend fences, and focus on the commonalities between Islam and Christianity, or will he respectfully talk about the differences?" Which leads me to ask what fences Turkey has tried to mend with its Christian Armenian minority/neighbors? Call it a genocide or not, I think Turkey should first look inward before "casting stones" towards those who suggest that it doesn't share the same value system as "Christian" Europe and therefore perhaps isn't ready to "join the club."
Posted By Anonymous Alan, New York, NY : 4:08 PM ET
Today, while watching to CNN, i have noticed the statement "99 % sunni muslim nation Turkey". This is not true. You should go and learn about what Alewi community think about that. Alewi community has around 20 million population in Turkey. I want to learn what Alewis are thinking about the visit and current situation from a western(American) point of view. Thanks
Posted By Anonymous AA, Auburn, AL : 4:16 PM ET
Hello,
The main purpose of the Holy Father's visit is to meet with the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch on the Feast of the Apostle Andrew, if I am not mistaken. Hence, the trip is a Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical one, primarily. Please make that known, it is a fact and that is exactly what journalism is about. Second, the Pope should address the blatant differences between Islam and Christianity, and how we, WITH REASON, not just faith, but also WITH REASON, come better to understand the idiocy of terrorism and fanaticism.
Posted By Anonymous Alberto Alejandre, Denver, CO : 4:17 PM ET
To Scott from East Bay CA: You are saying that "Christians and other religious minorities are treated terribly in Turkey". It is very interesting how ignorant people can be. I am Turk and lived for 32 years in Turkey. I have a lot of Christian / Jewish friends. Why don�t go to Turkey and try prove your lies? But you probably don�t know there is a world outside USA...
Since you sound like a religion expert, can you please answer me which of the tens of different versions of bible is Jesus's words?
To AC: hope you will not censor my comment. Because if you post comments like above then a response deserves to be here too
Posted By Anonymous Ugur, Istanbul, Turkey : 4:22 PM ET
Personally, I believe Pope Benedict XVI should follow the legacy of his predecessor and visit a mosque with Islamic clerics in an attempt to display interfaith dialogue. No question that interfaith dialogue was one of John Paul II's most successful accomplishments during his pontificate. Pope Benedict XVI should seek interfaith dialogue and reach out to the Islamic community for joint cooperation; however, I do not believe that the Pope should apologize for the comments he made months ago.
Posted By Anonymous Thomas Cogliano Springfield, VA : 4:24 PM ET
I think Pope Benedict should tell all Muslims that good people do not teach children to kill!
Posted By Anonymous Bonnie, Granville, Ohio : 4:47 PM ET
I lived for four years in Turkey, and found the vast majority of Turkish people to be warm, embracing and generally tolerant of differences. However, most Turks do believe that the West is prejudiced against Islam. I hope that the Pope can help to bridge the gap between these two great religions.
Posted By Anonymous Raymond J. Mas, Odenton, MD : 5:06 PM ET
The reason for the Pope's visit is to discuss Christianity, not Islam.

Pope Benedict XVI was invited to Istanbul by Patriarch Bartholomew to celebrate the feast day of St. Andrew, much in the same way that the Patriarch travels to the Vatican to celebrate the feast day of St. Peter. In short, the reason for the Pope's visit is ecumenical; taking another step towards the unification of Christianity into a single church. On Thursday, the Pope and Patriarch are jointly performing a Mass/Divine liturgy, a historical event which has not occured in 1200+ years. During his papacy, Pope John Paul II returned the relics of St. John Chrystostom and St. Gregory the Theologian to the Patriarchate. These relics were looted by the Crusaders in the 13th century. This event heleped ameliorate relations between the two churches. Pope Benedict XVI is furthering that dialogue.

In the context of this visit, debate regarding Islam is secondary.

Take care CNN!
Posted By Anonymous Valerie C., Wilmington, DE : 5:08 PM ET
Hi Anderson,
As hard as some countries may try to separate church and state, in the current global landscape it's virtually impossible to separate the two. Even in Iraq they don't identitfy themselves as being Iraqis,they identify themselves by their relgious sect. The Pope needs to wear both the political and secular hat on this trip. In today's shrinking world every word is broadcast either via internet or cable almost instantly.The Pope has a great opportunity to mend fences, I hope he takes advantage of the opportunity.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl M, Johnston, Rhode Island : 5:12 PM ET
Your little CNN Catholic commentator said it's not about having tea & biscuits (good attitude to start with buddy -- sarcasm -- we're all too stupid to understand) With his worship of the pope, it is difficult for him to see that what alot of people don't like about the pope is he just wants to dictate the way things should be. I would say, it would be nice for the pope to not go in acting like a dictator. He shouldn't try showing his pseudo-understanding of people, particularly non-Catholics or non-Christians. He should try genuine understanding, if he's @ all capable of that.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Wichita, KS : 5:22 PM ET
Anderson, first off I am a Christian so the Pope does not speak for me. I am interested in seeing what happens in Turkey and my gut is telling me that it may not be good.

As for what he needs to stress. I think he should stress the differences. They are there. Here are two that have been mentioned.

Muslims and Christians have very few similarities. For example, as for Jesus, Christians believe in the Divinity of Jesus, he is the second person of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in one). He is God. Because of this, many Muslims consider Christianity to be a Polytheistic religion. It isn't. We worship one God. Don't you think this is a far cry from considering someone a "great teacher and prophet"?

As for treatment of women, as a Christian woman, I can worship in the same room as men, pray with them, debate them, etc. I have experienced some extremely sexist attitudes but I find that they come from insecurity (particularly men who are insecure in their manhood)and are easily dealt with (without compromising myself). (And as someone who has dealt with these issues first hand, you do not truely understand it until you have gone through it) I don't have to cover myself head to toe. If someone doesn't like what I wear or are afraid I am going to incite lust in their hearts, then they can exhibit self control and turn their heads.

Having cited two differences, and the differences should not be denied or watered down, that doesn't mean that Muslims and Christians should not get along. People can agree to disagree and coexsist peacefully. And that is the bottom line.
Posted By Anonymous Sue, Huntington, WV : 5:28 PM ET
Anderson, He should focus on peace.
Be safe,
Anthony Guiliano
Posted By Anonymous Anthony Guiliano Allentown Pa : 5:30 PM ET
As a Born-Again Christian, I believe Catholic and Muslim teachings are in error. One's spiritual condition has eternal ramifications and is a very serious matter. Being such a serious issue, I understand the need to stand firm in what you believe is truth. Jesus did say he came to divide but he did not advocate violence, but love for our neighbors. I hope the Pope will stand up for truth as he see's it and not bow down to fear or political corectness.
Posted By Anonymous Leo Roszkowski Cheshire Ct : 5:36 PM ET
I am not Catholic, but, I am a born-again Christian and I believe the Pope will talk about Peace, Love and the forgiveness of sins as our Lord has forgiven us it is our duty to forgive others.
I pray for his safety and return trip back to Italy.
Posted By Anonymous Isabel & Bob Martin,Southbury,CT : 5:38 PM ET
the Pope should try not to put his foot in his mouth.
Posted By Anonymous Shannon, Charlottesville, VA : 1:42 AM ET
..The pope should not be intimidated saying differences between the two religions which are obvious.Christinity believe jesus as son of God and saviour and do not find a link to muhammad but respect those who believe him just like respecting jews, budha and hindu....it is plainly simple. You do not find any reasons for violence unnecessariry causing chaos and deaths in the pretext of religion which is morally and socially wrong. moslems enjoy freedom to express themselves wherever they are in the world even promoted to do so...but the same people bar other believers to enjoy the same rights in their own countries.
Posted By Anonymous Richard, Tanzania : 2:09 AM ET
Being an American visiting her ex-patriot parents in Germany, it seems everyone has an opinion on the Pope. He is not a popular figure in this part of Germany, The Black Forest, Southern Germany, and many believe he should have kept those opinions to himself. I meet people on the street who ask me what is the American view of all this. It is very difficult to tell them that most Americans outside of the Catholic Church have no idea what you are talking about, and that is sad.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly, Wehr, Germany : 2:22 AM ET
First and foremost i would like to give most of the people on this blog a huge hug! I am (and define myself as) a Muslim, Arab, Kuwaiti girl. Im earning my degree right here in America and i have to say that whenever i hear "Islam" on the news here I sort of roll my eyes, practically listing off the many ways i will be insulted. Not true of most of the writers of this blog, I had come to it to sort of defend my religon, my prophet (PBUH) and myslef and when i read through it i slowly but surely deflated! Thankyou so much for giving me hope that all ties are not severed! For letting me know that i dont always have to come with guns blazing (NO PUN INTENDED!!!)

I respect all religons and i was taught this by my religon (Christians and Jews are called people of book in the Quran meaning they had a God and a path to lead them to him)and to the woman who seemed to think that we couldnt pray with men, couldnt discuss with them and so on and so forth u are gravely wrong. Hey the Prophets (PBUH) wife lead an entire ARMY!! and also I dont think that religon is the problem with any conflict, its the people themselves. People who use the Torah, the Bible or the Quran to justify their atrocities are in reality bad horrible people. These books are like mirrors they reflect whats in your heart intially, they dont "put" anything there, people use them.

I also have to say that i loved Pope John Paul the second. I bawled pitifully when he died because the world can always use good, kind men where in thier eyes you can see that they know God. I would have loved to shake his hand. Now this new Pope I am not a big fan of! In his speech that was so obviously badly researched he said that Christianity was based on logic. This logical thought process comes from St. Thomas Aquinas who was a student of the teachings of Ibn Rushd! He assimilated a MUSLIM scholars teachings! Muslims are a population of 1.9 billion! would you really judge all of us by the actions of 20 or even 200 men? Would it be fair of me to judge americans by the actions of abu graib? or define christians by timothy Mcviegh?

I understand that most people dont understand Islam but if i could just you Anderson to please interview the muslim clerics that are proper and not crazy nut cases like the lawyer that represents the likes of the KKK in our collective muslim communities.

Anderson your show is superb! The one and only unbiased news show in America quite honestly! Thank you and keep up the good work!

PS to the lady who was wondering what women who are martrys get for thier sacrifice: 72 manslaves maybe;) in actuallality though the 72 virgins was an example that u could recieve anything u desired from God in heaven. Men were used in the examples because mostly men fought in the old days and died for God. the number isnt supposed to mean concretely 72 but in those days (of the Prophet (PBUH) it was like saying hundereds upon hundereds
Posted By Anonymous Sarah Al-Rukhais, Kuwait. : 7:22 AM ET
The Pope should appologize for his comments against Islam, and for past church roles in the Crusades and the Spanish Inquistion.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Zeid, Saratoga, California : 9:10 AM ET
The trip to Turkey was originally planned as a co-celebration of the Feast of Saint Andrew with the Patriarch of Constantinople that was to take place last year. It was delayed because the Turkish government refused to recognize the Patriarch's invitation to the Pope. Today we hear that the Patriarchate's press greeting cards have been restricted because of the use of the word "ecumenical" and that the Turks are bristling at the thought of the Pope praying at the Hagia Sophia - Orthodox Christendom's greatest church (turned mosque turned museum). This all in the context of a country that has gone from more than a third Christian in the early 1900's to less than 1% Christan today. There is nothing we can do about the genocide, pogroms and discriminations that extinguished Christianity in Turkey. However, the focus of the Pope's trip should be, in a word, "reciprocity". If Muslims want to be respected they must equally respect the rights of Christians in Moslem lands (which in the case of Turkey was a very important formerly Orthodox Christian land). The fact that the Patriarchate and Christian minorities remain terribly oppressed, expropriated and discriminated against should be highlighted by the Pope in every discussion about "understanding among the religions". The plight of Christians is similar throughout the middle east - Christians should not be the only ones required to show respect. Muslims should do the same.
Posted By Anonymous Constantine Petropoulos, New York, New York : 9:26 AM ET
I think the pope should look at the situation of Christian churches in northern illegally occupied Cyprus
and the way the Greek orthodox people are treated in turkey before praising turkey on religious freedom
Posted By Anonymous Nick , Toronto Ont : 9:57 AM ET
Equal rights for Christians in Turkey -- that is what the Pope should demand.
Posted By Anonymous Danny, Ottawa Canada : 10:44 AM ET
This Pope is following his predecessor policy.
Everybody in Europe and I think all around the world knows what great person and Pope was Ioannes Paulus II and his diplomatic way.
When Ioannes Paulus II becames Pope Communism and Political oppression was the disease, today the "religion" differences could become a new disease so I think Benedict 16° is trying to find a way to prevent this real dangerous problem.
We hope He is successful.
Posted By Anonymous Andrea Belcredi ,Torino, Italy : 10:57 AM ET
As odd as it sounds, it may be interesting for the Pope to approach the situation, at least partly, from a socio-economic standpoint. How will Turkey and the EU benefit long-term? While religion is the main concern, it doesn't have to be the only concern. If a grander acceptance is shown, it may mean a big step for the EU and the world will see it.
Posted By Anonymous Aruna Rao, Minneapolis, MN : 11:03 AM ET
I think the Pope should focus on the Catholics of Turkey - and there are many - and to tread lightly as regards Muslims. The muslims I knew in Turkey when I lived there were wonderful, peace loving, non-radical, and enjoyed their religious life immensely. We must always take care that we don't feel Muslim automatically equals radical. As with any religion, there are good ones and bad ones involved - and the definition is sometimes moot because religion, after all, is a belief system guiding one's way of life. Turkey took a huge, courageous step in becoming a "secular" country - meaning the state would not dictate its people must subscribe to a particular belief system. Considering Turkey was only established - as we know it today - in 1921, they are - now - where the U.S. was in about 1861 as far as organizational progress.
It is much more important to look upon the Turks as caretakers and keepers of the history of the civilized world as various populations have lived there well over 5,000 years...and just like Americans, individual Turks have family backgrounds that span the globe.
Turkey is a stunningly important and beautiful country, and like all countries they have their problems and their differences among people. The pope should be - and is being - welcomed as any guest. Turks are very hospitable, welcoming people in general and I hate seeing a very few radicals spoiling the visit of any head of state, much less the Pope.
Posted By Anonymous Jan Claire, Yosemite, California : 11:07 AM ET
Dear Mr. Cooper,

Pope and the press SHOULD observe that Turkey is consisted of 70 million people and the majority of the country is very different than those in the protests. I don't think overemphasizing protests of 20,000 in a city of 20,000,000, provides such support; but I do know that these protestors were not only against West, Christianity or Pope, but also against the secular state itself! So please, don't help the world judge Turkey by reflecting this crowd as if the whole county is consisted of them. Pope and the press SHOULD help Turkey to become what it wants to become rather than what it is scared of becoming.
Posted By Anonymous Spencer Comert, Seattle, WA : 11:26 AM ET
HI enderson

I am a Turkish muslim living in the united states. I come from the soul of Turkey. I was fascinated by the speech of Pope BenedictII. His speech was in the way that a pope or religious leader's talk should be. He talked about about peace, brotherhood dialog and so on. I never tought that he should be generous enough to accept us as brothers. I loved the pope before -Pope john Poul. A muslim scholar and Offical religious leader of Turkey have visited him in Rome. Anyways What ever the intention of Poppe Benedict it's been good for now.
Posted By Anonymous Bilal Dogan Miami : 11:32 AM ET
Hi Anderson:
please note that mystic islam (sufism) has much more influence on Turks than that of fundementalist version. Mevlana, one of the greatest sufi muslim saints, lived in city of Konya in Turkey in the 12th century. His teachings still play a key role among Turks. Below quote summarizes his teachings of islam "We may be Jews, Muslims, or Christians, but until our hearts become the mould for every heart, we will see only our differences".
Having said that, I think Pope should remember that evil may come out from any religion (inquisition, crusaders, KKKs etc.) when exploited politically. Pope should see the common values with other religions and look beyond Catholic version of Christianity.
He and other religious leaders should emphasize on living in unity with as a one family. As a conclusion, I'd like to give another quote from an Amercan sufi saint (Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, PA)"The whole society of mankind is one family. They all emerged from one God, one truth. God has told us that we are all different parts of the same thing. No matter what our external differences may be, we are all one. We are all one."
Posted By Anonymous Aydin Yeniay, Wayne, PA : 11:36 AM ET
I think it is wonderful that the pope is meeting with Muslim clerics and there is much more to be done.

On the same line of thought however, is the pope's poor record of speaking with and working with leaders within the Christian Community. Until the pope is able to accept his brothers of Chritianity, there is little to no hope he will embrace people of other faiths.

First, the pope should call for an Ecumenical Council that fairly represents the Christian Community. Once the issues unique to Christians have been addressed and resolved. Real discussions can begin with other faiths.

All efforts are welcomed, respected and encouraged.
Posted By Anonymous Michael Myron, Grand Canyon, AZ : 12:25 PM ET
Hello Anderson,

You and CNN are mistaken when you refer to Turkey as a muslim nation.It is a strictly secular nation that limits the influence of Islam on daily life. In fact, a woman wearing a religious headscarf is not permitted to enter a public buliding such as a school or government office.
This adherence to secularism is what has kept Turkey out of the Islamic revolution that has swept through other predominantly muslim countries. This secularism is also what makes Turks staunchly nationalistic.
Turkey is no more a Muslim country then the USA is a Christian one.
Posted By Anonymous Dennis , Montreal : 12:26 PM ET
Hello
I want to thank 2 comment writers named Joanne Ranzell and Laval quebec.I'm a muslim in Ankara and i especially agree with your opnion "What I don't respect, are the terrorists hiding behind religion to do their dirty,dispicable work.If the leaders of religions aren't able to sit down and have reasonable discussions,maybe it's time communities stand on their own and open the lines of communications." especially,after 9/11,Muslims are thought as potentiel terrorists,Everybody should be okey that "terror has no religion"
Thank you...
Posted By Anonymous Alper BAYRAKTAR-Ankara/TURKEY : 1:01 PM ET
Until Muslims learn that respect is a two-way street, meetings such as this are useless.

If any non-Muslim reading this thinks that Islam is just another religion, no more dangerous than Buddism or Scientology, PLEASE do some research and find out for yourself. PLEASE do not just blithely accept the "few bad apples in the religion of peace" line.

Start with a web search of the word "dhimmi"
Posted By Anonymous Fred, Memphis TN : 12:34 PM ET
I hope and pray the pope (and others) discuss peace solutions (doesn't everyone!?)!! I think it's so important that this be a time, in similarity with the Dalai Lama, of dialogue, and Proper dialogue. I think his visit is great, and like Anderson says in the blog, not that many people seem to be interested, but it is still very important. Religious leaders (and really any sort of leader/important figure) sometimes have important effects in our lives, and what the pope says or does reflects a lot (whether you are religious or not).

If you go to the website of the Vatican (www.vatican.va) you can see his schedule; what they hope to accomplish (including inter-religious dialogue with a Rabbi for example), which is quite impressive. I think they also will post his speeches he will be making while he is there. Also, looking into news articles, I noticed reporters also say that the pope will be going to a masjid (mosque) during his trip, which once again is important and impressive!

I think when it comes to interfaith/inter-religious dialogue; you need to look at the similarities (there are soooo many! examples: peace, love, compassion, respect, service) because there are clearly more similarities then differences! I think the pope will try and do that (or I at least HOPE he does...) and I'm sure he wants to.

I hope he also tries to bring in the actual primary sources themselves: the religious texts! I think it would be great to bring examples from the Bible, Bhagavad-Gita, the Torah, the Koran, and others, into discussion and show the basic meaning behind their simple/basic messages (some sort of life lesson) because, like I said, it�s always best to go the main source (instead of sometimes false facts/sources)

Thanks Anderson �. Nice discussion
Posted By Anonymous deepa, Buffalo,NY : 12:53 PM ET
The Pope shows we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Posted By Anonymous Linda Williams, Las Vegas, Nv. : 8:28 PM ET
As a Roman Catholic, I am hoping that the pope will be able to speak of peace and forgiveness. Christians, Muslims and Jews have One God as their Father, that's our commonality and should be our way towards brotherhood. But no, all three have been warring against each other since the begining of time.... what's new?
To my born-again brothers and sisters in Christ; when you make comments like 'Catholics and Muslims teaching are in error." by Leo Roskowski, you only add to the divide. Jesus' great commandment is "love one another as I have loved you" where's the love if you are judging? For your information, Catholics believe that Jesus IS our Lord and Savior, we are His people too. Let's start by ALL of us, who call ourselves Christians being respectful, seeking to understand one another and showing the world that we are indeed, the Body of Christ.
Posted By Anonymous Mari Fernandez, Salt Lake City, Utah : 12:01 PM ET
I'm reading the transcript to the show and I see the top Islamic authority in Turkey, Ali Bardakoglu say, "Insulting Islam breeds violence", practically to the pope's face

Is Ali's comment merely giving credibility to pope's Regensburg speech?
Posted By Anonymous CJ, Seattle, WA : 3:21 AM ET
I'm reading the transcript to the show and I see the top Islamic authority in Turkey, Ali Bardakoglu say, "Insulting Islam breeds violence", practically to the pope's face

Is Ali's comment merely giving credibility to pope's Regensburg speech?
Posted By Anonymous CJ, Seattle, WA : 3:22 AM ET
Turkey is just as European as England, France, Germany, Spain, etc. They should be in the EU.
Posted By Anonymous Marwan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania : 5:10 PM ET
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