Christians too afraid to attend Mass in Turkey after terrorist attacks
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Bishop Ruben Tierrablanca Gonzalez, an apostolic vicar of Istanbul, shared the fear rippling among Turkey's Catholics.
Turkey ups its security at churches but patrons are still too afraid to attend.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Ongoing attacks aimed at churches in Turkey have led to an increase in government protection, but after several bombings in Istanbul, the public still lives in fear.
"Although we can move around freely, people are understandably afraid of coming to Mass, and there's been a drop in participation," Bishop Gonzalez shared.
"But all churches have been given police guards since a coup was attempted last July, and security officials have shown great kindness to us. Christians, Muslims and Jews are talking together and sharing the same anxieties, although the future doesn't depend on us."
Churches aren't the only buildings coming under literal fire.
Reina nightclub was attacked on January 1, killing 39 people and injuring 70 others.
The attacks prompted the Turkish government to extend a state of emergency, but Bishop Gonzalez believes the government is doing its best.
Sisters of Elias Wardini, a Lebanese man killed in a gun attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul, mourn during his funeral Mass at the Church of Our Lady in Beirut (Nabil Mounzer/CNS/EPA).
Now is "not a time to criticise government failures," he stated, according to the Catholic Herald.
"It's a difficult moment, and all we can really do is speak out together against terror and in favour of peace; this, rather than any political statement, has to be our message to the Turkish authorities," Bishop Gonzalez continued. "As participants in this country's normal life, we have to confront the difficulties and be vigilant, setting aside any antagonisms."
The many attacks come from the majority Muslim community. Several attempts to gain more rights for religious minorities have been made over the years, but little progress has been made.
Bishop Gonzalez called Catholics in the U.S. and Europe to help highlight the Church's "many positive achievements" in Turkey, especially its ecumenical links, charity works rather than "continuously spreading a negative image of the country."
The troubled Bishop explained: "Despite its problems, our country is no more dangerous than many others- the challenge is only from a few small groups and individuals.
"Since Muslims form the majority here, it's natural the government is pro-Islam. But this poses no problem and doesn't prevent Catholics and Muslims from working together.
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