FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, Press Officer
Rev. Nephon Tsimalis, English Office
ISTANBUL – His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of over 300 million Orthodox faithful worldwide, welcomed His Holiness Pope Francis at Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul.
“Your Holiness, beloved brother in Christ, we welcome you with great joy, esteem and love. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on greeting the Pope.
This warm embrace of the two Prelates of the Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church, as well as the visit of Pope Francis to Istanbul in general, brings a message of love and peace for millions of Christians around the world.
The last Pope to visit Istanbul was Benedict VI in 2006; prior to that, Patriarch Demetrios welcomed Pope John Paul II in 1979.
Accompanying the Ecumenical Patriarch to the airport were Elder Metropolitan John of Pergamon (co-chairman of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches), Archbishop Demetrios of America and Grand Archdeacon Andreas Sofianopoulos.
His All-Holiness Bartholomew is the Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch. He is the 269th successor of the 2,000-year old local Christian Church founded by St. Andrew. As a citizen of Turkey, His All-Holiness’s personal experience offers a unique perspective on the vital dialogue among Jews, Christians and Muslims. For his inspiring efforts on behalf of religious freedom and human rights, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was awarded the United States Congressional Gold Medal in 1997.