Pope Francis to visit Turkey in the near future

Pope Francis to visit Turkey in the near future

Pope Francis to visit Turkey in the near future

This handout picture released by the Vatican press office on March 20, 2013 shows Pope Francis (R) greeting the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I during a private audience at the Vatican. Bartholomew was the first patriarch of Constantinople to attend a papal inauguration since 1054 when the eastern and western halves of Christendom split in the "Great Schism". AFP photo

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said that it was possible for Pope Francis to visit Turkey in the near future, in the way that previous popes have visited the country.

When Lombardi was asked whether Bartholomew had invited the pope to Istanbul or not, he said that he had no information on the matter. “However, the visit is possible, because former popes paid visits to Istanbul and similarly the Patriarch visits the Vatican frequently. Istanbul visits have almost become a tradition,” he said.

Christian unity most important concern: Bartholomew

Christian unity is the most pressing concern for religious leaders, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew said yesterday as Pope Francis received representatives of major world religions in the Vatican.

Bartholomew opened the meeting, attended by Christian leaders and representatives of Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, in an ornate Vatican hall.

In his address, Bartholomew said Christian unity was “our first and most important concern” and called on the pope to “correct worldly tendencies” in Christianity. Francis assured Bartholomew – whom he referred to as his “brother” – of his “firm willingness to continue down the path of ecumenical dialogue.” He said these assurances were very much “in line with his predecessor” Benedict XVI, who was a keen promoter of interreligious dialogue.

Bartholomew also referred to Francis’s experience as an archbishop in Argentina during the country’s devastating economic crisis. The world economic climate “demands humanitarian action in which you already have great experience,” he said, referring to the “high, grave and difficult task” that Francis will face.
For his part, Pope Francis promised “friendship and respect” toward all faiths. The Roman Catholic Church would “promote friendship and respect between men and women of different religions,” the pope said, a day after his formal inauguration in St. Peter’s Square.