Washington: Previously secret cables exposed by a whistle-blowing website claim that the pope is to be held responsible for the Vatican`s growing hostility towards Turkey joining the EU.
According to the cables sent from the US embassy to the Holy See in Rome, in 2004 Cardinal Ratzinger, the future pope, expressed his reservations against letting a Muslim state join the bloc.
The latest cables published in Guardian reveal that the US diplomat noted that Ratzinger "clearly understands that allowing a Muslim country into the EU would further weaken his case for Europe`s Christian foundations".
However, the Vatican`s acting foreign minister, Monsignor Pietro Parolin, told US diplomats that Ratzinger`s comments were his own, and not the official Vatican position.
However, when Parolin started working for Ratzinger by 2006, who was now Pope Benedict XVI, his tone had changed. "Neither the pope nor the Vatican have endorsed Turkey`s EU membership per se," he told the American charge d`affaires, "rather, the Holy See has been consistently open to accession, emphasising only that Turkey needs to fulfil the EU`s Copenhagen criteria to take its place in Europe."
Speaking on religious freedom, Parolin said: "One great fear is that Turkey could enter the EU without having made the necessary advances in religious freedom. [Parolin] insisted that EU members – and the US – continue to press the [Turkish government] on these issues … He said that short of `open persecution`, it couldn`t get much worse for the Christian community in Turkey."
The cables also make public that the US government lobbied within Rome and Ankara for Turkish EU membership. "We hope a senior department official can visit the Holy See and encourage them to do more to push a positive message on Turkey and integration," said the cable.