Turkey's government has refused a personal request from Pope Benedict and from other Christian leaders for the reopening of the only church in Tarsus, the city of St Paul's birth.
The Church of St Paul, built as a Catholic church in the 1800s and confiscated by the government in 1943, was used throughout the 2008-2009 year of St Paul for prayer services by Christian pilgrims, American Catholic reports.
After the end of the year long celebration commemorating the 2,000th anniversary of St Paul's birth, the Turkish government decided the building could not be used exclusively for worship.
Bishop Luigi Padovese, the apostolic vicar for Anatolia and president of the Catholic bishops' conference of Turkey, told the Vatican newspaper on August 1 that the government decided to return to the practice of allowing Christians to pray in the church as long as they made reservations three days in advance and bought an admission ticket.
Bishop Padovese told L'Osservatore Romano, that in addition to asking Christians to pay to enter the church, Turkish authorities have placed a time limit on Masses and other prayer services so they do not disrupt the normal operation of the museum.
"It is a lack of respect for the right to religious freedom and freedom to worship," the bishop said.
FULL STORY @
Turkish Government Denies Request for Church in Tarsus (American Catholic)