Turkey's constitution affirms they are a secular state, although they are 97% Muslim. Benedict XVI stated this fact during a meeting with bishops from Turkey. As such, the Pope said, Muslims and Christians in Turkey must commit themselves to defend life, peace and justice to all.
He also suggested a bilateral commission to solve these problems, like lawfully recognizing the Catholic Church in Turkey.
This concept is especially important during this ongoing Pauline year when pilgrims are to visit the land where Saint Paul was born and where Christianity began to flourish. The Pope asked for freedom to access these Holy places often closed off to the public. Benedict XVI
The existence of your local Churches, in all their diversity, builds on a rich history marked by the development of early Christian communities. So many names, so dear to the disciples of Christ, remain attached to your land.
According to Aid to the Church in Need there are 32,000 baptized Catholics living in Turkey, a small but vibrant population that is grateful for its historic heritage as the birthplace of Saint Paul.Msgr. Luigi Padovese
Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia (Turkey) It's a sign of love for the Christian tradition that Your Holiness outlines in your catechesis, reminding us of the treasures of thought and holiness that make up our Christian identity.
Although Turkey has been for decades the only country in the world with no state religion, there have been some problems for Christian minorities. Many expect these problems will not be an issue for pilgrims hoping to pray at the sites where Saint Paul once lived.