From the 28th to the 30th of November His Holiness Pope Francis visited the land of Turkey. This event would effect the world in two important matters : dialogue with the Muslim world and progress towards reunification with the Orthodox Church. For us Conventual Franciscans Friars Minor (Little) Brothers, the messages given by the Holy Father above all gave us courage and a special blessing.
The church in the holy land of Turkey can be traced from its founding to the present. It is still fruitful even though the preaching of the Gospel and carrying the message of Jesus is not easy, just as it wasn’t in those times. In this blessed land, Pope Francis came to meet with both Muslims and the Orthodox Church. Turkey’s tiny Catholic community was also overjoyed through knowing that it was not alone and that it was walking with the rest of the universal church under the spiritual leadership of the Pope.
On the first day of his visit in Ankara, in the presence of Turkish authorities Pope Francis gave the message “Peace cannot be forged with poverty.” He continued, “…It is essential that all citizens both in the provision and practice of the law, enjoy the same rights and respect the same duties… Freedom of religion and freedom of expression, when truly guaranteed to each person, will help friendship to flourish and thus become an eloquent sign of peace..” While discussing peace he also spoke on fundamentalisim and terrorism, and religion being used as a vehicle for terrorism, as well as dialoguing for peace, and underscoring the need to respect rights and justice.
While celebrating the Eucharist at Istanbul’s Saint Esprit Kathedral and while in ecumenical prayer with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at Aya Yorgi Church, Pope Francis brought forward the subject of unity. In saying, “It is a responsibility to give the Holy Spirit permission to lead us to true unity which goes beyond settling accounts. the more we allow ourselves to be humbly guided by the Spirit of the Lord, the more we will overcome misunderstandings, divisions, and disagreements,” Pope Francis also proclaimed that true dialogue is not just taking from an ideological marketplace. Instead it is always in the context of people coming together.
During the Holy Father’s time in Turkey, The Conventual Franciscans Friars played an active role in his visit to the Church of St. Anthony as well as aiding countless visitors to the church. Prior to the Pope’s visit an exhibition of captioned photographs was placed in front of the church. The photos included the meetings of Pope Paul VI with Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Francis with Patriarch Bartholomew. As mass was being performed a large screen was setup outside of the Saint Esprit Cathedral to allow the crowd to watch. It was beautiful to see the church so full.
For we Conventual Franciscans in Turkey, the private meeting with Pope Francis was a great joy. He encouraged us through a smiling simplicity, not as though he were just our director. He taught us through a hope-filled message that large works accomplished by us are truly not of us but are instead done by the Holy Spirit who goes beyond our limits.
Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Dr. Father Lorenzo Piretto, OP, until now the superior of the convent of Izmir as the Archbishop of Izmir Turkey.
Fr. Lorenzo succeeds the Most Rev Ruggero Franceschini, OFM Cap whose resignation from the pastoral governance in accordance with Can. 401, no. 1 of Code of Canon Law, the pope accepted.
Fr. Piretto was born on December 15, 1942. He began his studies for the priesthood at Domincan Novitiate of Diesole in 1958, made his solemn vows on Dec 16 1963 and was ordained a priest on Aug 4, 1966.
He received a licentiate in theology in Bologna (1967) and a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Turin (1972).
Since then he has held various teaching assignments, first as a member of the Dominican Seminary of Chieri (TO) from 1967 to 1974, where he taught philosophy, and also at FIST Turin until 1982. At the same time (1976-1983) he was Novice Master in Chieri (TO). After his transfer to Turkey in 1983, he taught Italian from 1986 to 1996, and Latin (1992-2005) at Marmara University in Istanbul.
In his Congregation he was the Superior of the Convent of Istanbul (1987-2007) and Vicar Provincial for Turkey from 1993-2010; and from 2014 to now is the Superior of the Convent of Izmir.
He held pastoral assignments as the Parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Istanbul (1988-2014) and Vicar General of the Apostolic Vicariate of Istanbul (1992-2014). For thirty years he was the Director of the Catholic monthly “Presence” in Istanbul.
Besides Italian, he speaks Turkish, English, French and German.