Interfaith Christmas in Istanbul

On 25 December 2021, the Franciscan Community of Istanbul, Turkey, opened its doors for an interfaith lunch on the occasion of Christmas Day. The luncheon was attended by Brother John Wong, General Definitor and President of the Order’s Commission for Dialogue. Present were Brother Éleuthère Makuta, Guardian of Istanbul, the friars of the community, the Franciscan Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Muslims and Christian refugees in Turkey and some prisoners.

“The Franciscan presence in Istanbul focuses on inter-religious dialogue, based on the Franciscan values of brotherhood and hospitality,” said Brother John, greeting the lunch guests.

Brother Georges Misange Mutombo, a community member, expressed his gratitude, confirming that the people respect the friars. As a sign of this appreciation, during the Islamic fasting period of Ramadan, Muslims invite the friars for the evening iftar meal.

Every year on 24 December, the mayor of Beyoğlu goes to the friars to wish them a Merry Christmas.

There are thirteen Friars Minor in Turkey, nine dependent on the Minister General and the others from the Provinces of Argentina and South Korea. The friars are constantly engaged in ecumenism and the promotion of interreligious dialogue.