In a prayer gathering on the second day of Pope Francis’ visit to Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew I welcomed him with joy, saying his presence is a symbolic “bridging” of the East and West.
“May these holy fathers, on whose teaching our common faith of the first millennium was founded, intercede for us to the Lord so that we may rediscover the full union of our Churches, thereby fulfilling His divine will in crucial times for humanity and the world,” Patriarch Bartholomew I said on Nov. 29.
Directed toward Pope Francis, the speech took place during an ecumenical prayer gathering held at the Orthodox cathedral of St. George in Istanbul, after which the Pope and the Patriarch held a private meeting.
Patriarch Bartholomew welcomed the Pope with “joy, honor and gratitude because you have deemed it proper to direct your steps from the Old Rome to the New Rome, symbolically bridging the West and the East through this movement.”
Pope Francis’ visit, the first since his election to the “throne that ‘presides in love,’” serves as a continuation of his predecessors, Bl. Paul VI, St. John Paul II and retired pontiff Benedict XVI, the patriarch observed.
He told the Pope that his visit “also bears witness to your own will and that of the most holy Church of Rome to maintain the fraternal and stable advance with the Orthodox Church for the restoration of full communion between our Churches.”
The patriarch cited the Pope’s arrival as a historical moment marked with “satisfaction and appreciation,” and noted how throughout time the cathedral has been and still is served by strong ecclesiastical figures who have “brightened” it alongside the many fathers of the universal Church.