The Roman Catholic Church in Turkey is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and the canonical leadership of the curia in Rome. There are around 35,000 Catholics, constituting 0.05% of the population. The faithful follow the Latin, Byzantine, Armenian and Chaldean Rite. Most Latin Rite Catholics are Levantines of mainly Italian or French background, although a few are ethnic Turks (who are usually converts via marriage to Levantines or other non-Turkish Catholics). Byzantine, Armenian, and Chaldean rite Catholics are generally members of the Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian minority groups respectively. Turkey's Catholics are concentrated in Istanbul.
The Catholic community was shocked when Father Andrea Santoro, an Italian missionary working in Turkey for 10 years, was shot twice at his church near the Black Sea. He had written a letter to the Pope asking him to visit Turkey. Pope Benedict XVI visited Turkey in November 2006. Relations had been rocky since Pope Benedict XVI had stated his opposition to Turkey joining the European Union. The Council of Catholic Bishops met with the Turkish prime minister in 2004 to discuss restrictions and difficulties such as property issues. More recently, Bishop Luigi Padovese, on June 6, 2010, the Vicar Apostolic of Turkey, was killed.
Turkey is notable for being the only country with territory in Europe, other than Estonia, to have never had a Catholic bishop from its own dominant ethnic group in recent centuries.
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