Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I decided to be present at the Mass celebrated for Pope Francis at the Catholic Cathedral of Istanbul, with a crowd of believers, yesterday 13 March, late in the afternoon. Another two metropolitans of the Patriarchate were present. The Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Paul Russell, apostolic Nuncio in Ankara, and con-celebrated by the three Latin bishops of Turkey, by the bishop of the Armenian Catholic Church Levon Zekiyan, and by the Chorbishop of the Syrian Catholic Church Orhan Çanlı, as well as several priests. Bishop of Syrian Catholics Yusuf Cetin as well as several diplomatic representatives were also present. Patriarch Bartholomew was also present 5 years ago, at the Mass for the beginning of Pope Francis’ pontificate: that was a historical participation, for it was the first time for an ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople taking part in such ceremony since the break of 1054. Since then, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew have met several times. The Pope went to Istanbul on the occasion of the feast of Saint Andrew, in 2014. In the same year, Francis and Bartholomew met in Jerusalem for the 50th anniversary of the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras; finally: the journey to the Greek island of Lesbos, as a sign of solidarity and sympathy of the Churches with the tragedy of migrants, and as an appeal to the international community before never-ending tragedy. Yesterday, Bartholomew sent the Pope a letter of good wishes, written in French, pointing out the stages of their relations. This year, at the end of May, the Patriarch will meet Francis again: he will be in Rome on invitation by the “Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice” Foundation to take part in the international conference at Vatican City, from 24 to 26 May 2018, dedicated to the subject: “New policies and new lifestyles in the digital era”. On Saturday, 26 May, Bartholomew I will deliver a speech about: “A common Christian agenda for common good”.
Yesterday’s Mass was followed by a cocktail party in the rooms of the nearby Apostolic Nunciature, which was the house of Saint Giovanni Roncalli during his stay in Turkey.