Msgr. Stern joined an international delegation of Catholic aid organizations, led by Dr. Otmar Oering of Missio, the pastoral agency of the German Catholic bishops, on a fact-finding visit to Turkey in September. The delegation focused on the status of religious minorities. In addition to meeting in Istanbul with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, they visited Chaldean, Syriac and Roman Catholic leaders. Describing Turkey as a “complex mosaic of peoples…where little is black and white,” Msgr. Stern noted the eagerness of the secular, but overwhelmingly Muslim, country of 70 million to join the European Union.
Msgr. Stern said the delegation plans to present a report on Turkey to the meeting of Catholic donor agencies serving the Eastern churches convoked twice a year by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Eastern Churches.