Vatican Media Watch 06.10.2007

World Food Program Head Lauds Benedict

Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), praised Pope Benedict for his “invaluable support in favor of the world’s hungry,” reported Reuters.

The World Food Program works with a number of Catholic organizations, including Caritas Internationalis which, through its network of over 40 member organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, distributed 85,000 tons of food in 2006.

“I hope that the already excellent collaborative work with the Catholic Church which, like WFP, is an institution with truly global reach, can be strengthened further,” said Sheeran, who met with the Pope in late May. “The moral authority of the Holy Father and his appeals for peace, justice and security are highly encouraging for us. We know we can always count on the partnership and precious help of Catholics and Catholic organizations.”

Holy See in Favor of Turkey’s EU Bid

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, said the Vatican is in favor of Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, the international news service AKI reported.

The cardinal, responding to a question on whether Turkey, which is grappling with a resurgence of Islamist identity, should join secular Europe, said that if fundamental rules of coexistence are respected, dialogue and building together a common future is possible “also with [Turkey’s] entry into Europe.” Cardinal Bertone said, “Turkey … has come a long way and is still progressing. I mean there are evolutions … but within a framework of individuals, populations and governments who respect fundamental rules of common living, it is possible to dialogue and to build together a common resource on a European and worldwide level.”

Pope Benedict Restores Council for Muslim Dialogue

Pope Benedict reconsidered his move to combine the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue with the Vatican’s culture ministry, the Australian newspaper The Age reported.

The merging of the two organizations, announced in March, met with suspicion from Muslim leaders that the Holy Father wasn’t putting a higher priority on interreligious dialogue. Some sources close to the Vatican said the move reflected the Pope’s conviction at the time that a full theological dialogue with Muslim representatives was impossible. However, meetings with Muslim leaders in subsequent months must have given him renewed hope.