Archbishop Gallagher in Türkiye: Authentic Christian witness required amid Third World War in pieces

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher is in Türkiye for the Antalya Diplomacy Forum 2024.

The Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations will be participating today and tomorrow in the annual event that from 1st-3rd March will bring together Heads of States, ministers, diplomats, business leaders, and academics, to discuss pressing global issues and challenges.

Antalya Diplomacy Forum 2024

With the theme “Advancing Diplomacy in Times of Turmoil,” the Forum is being held under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Türkiye, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and on the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye.

In its third edition, which takes place as the wars continue to cause suffering in Ukraine and the Middle East, the Forum is expected to explore peaceful paths to the global unrest, through various panel discussions, keynote speeches, and networking opportunities aimed at fostering dialogue and cooperation.

According to its website, international challenges to be discussed at the venue will include the “ongoing wars, acts of terrorism, irregular migration, rise of xenophobia and Islamophobia, unforeseen risks of AI, climate change, natural disasters, pandemics and widening socioeconomic gaps.”

Archbishop Gallagher: May Pope Francis confirm us in faith

Yesterday, Archbishop Gallagher arrived in Türkiye, where he celebrated Holy Mass in Istanbul at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit where Pope Francis had done so a decade ago. Today, the Vatican official  met with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I.

During the Mass which commemorated the rapidly-approaching eleventh anniversary of Pope Francis’ election to the papacy on 13th March 2013, Archbishop Gallagher suggested that as we recall his election, “we pray in a special way for the Supreme Pontiff.”

For all Catholics in Turkey, both those of the Latin Rite and those of the various Eastern rites, the Vatican diplomat recognized, the “Pope is the visible source and foundation of the unity of faith and communion of the whole Church.”

Therefore, he said, “we pray for the Holy Father, especially today, that as the Shepherd of the whole Church, he may confirm us in faith and love and lead the Church with confidence.”

Expressing appreciation for the presence of other Christian representatives present, Archbishop Gallagher stressed that Christians “are all part of the same family of God’s children and share the same belief in Christ and the Church he founded.”

“Let us continue to move forward together,” he said.

Innocents who suffer like Jesus

The Vatican diplomat also remembered the Readings that told of the innocent suffering of the Lord and of the prophet Jeremiah, as he recalled the countless innocents who suffer today.

In “so many innocent people who suffer, righteous people, who are persecuted or silenced by people who are deaf to the message of salvation of Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Gallagher decried, “continues the story of the Suffering Servant and the persecuted Just One, betrayed by His own and persecuted by the powerful, condemned to the terrible death of the Cross.”

The Lord, he said, “is the innocent victim, par excellence.”

Regardless of Jesus’ great suffering, “His message,” the Vatican official argued, is “full of hope,” because at the end of His mission “there is not death, but life.”

“Therefore, like our Master, we, his disciples,” he said, “must not seek success,” but “only the will of God, putting ourselves at the service of others, making ourselves small, giving our lives for others.” This, he acknowledged, “will often involve humiliation and failure before others, but it is the only way for any true disciple of Jesus Christ.”

“The Lord has shown by His own life, that this way is possible,” he said.

Third World War in pieces

Archbishop Gallagher concluded his homily by recalling how ten years ago Pope Francis, in that same Church, encouraged Christians to be authentically guided by the Holy Spirit.

“In an international context that the Holy Father has long defined as a Third World War in pieces,” Archbishop Gallagher stressed, “we are called first of all to be authentic Christians, capable of being led by the Spirit, without giving in to the temptation to resist Him.”

“The Holy Spirit, we know,” he acknowledged, “disrupts our plans and projects, and moves the Church forward. For the Church is unity in diversity.”

Pope Francis in Türkiye

Pope Francis made an Apostolic Visit to Türkiye, 28-30 Nov. 2014, at the start of his pontificate, where he followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Pope St. Paul VI, who had visited the Muslim-majority nation 50 years earlier.

As Paul VI had done with then-Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras in 1964, Pope Francis met with current-Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, with whom the Holy Father has maintained a friendship and a close collaboration throughout his papacy.