16 May 2024, The Tablet

Patriarch Bartholomew: Pope hopes to visit Turkey in 2025

The Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch hope to celebrate together the anniversary of the Council of Nicaea in 325AD.

Patriarch Bartholomew: Pope hopes to visit Turkey in 2025

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis met in the Vatican in September 2023.
Abaca Press / Alamy

Pope Francis wishes to visit Turkey in 2025 to celebrate the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea, according to the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

The patriarch announced the plan on 16 May in remarks to the Portuguese press. He was in Lisbon to participate in a forum on interreligious dialogue organised by the KAICIID International Dialogue Centre.

“His Holiness Pope Francis wants to celebrate this very important anniversary together, and he plans to come to our country to visit with us in Constantinople at the patriarchate, and then proceed together to Nicaea, Iznik,” Bartholomew said.

“We have formed a mixed commission with four Catholics and four Orthodox to meet a few days from now in Istanbul, to arrange all the details of this important meeting to take place next year.”

He added that, as a head of state, the Pope “will contact the Turkish government, to formalise his visit and his involvement in these coming celebrations”.

The Council of Nicaea met in 325AD at the behest of the Emperor Constantine, and its deliberations resulted in the formulation of the Nicaean Creed.

Patriarch Bartholomew emphasised the depth of his friendship with Pope Francis, saying that the two have met personally 12 times over the past 11 years, in Rome and in Istanbul but also in many other locations.

“This is why we can say that our relations are more than brotherly,” said the patriarch. He insisted that the progress in Catholic-Orthodox relations over the past decades was the result of God’s will, and not merely human success.

If the trip were to go ahead, it would be Pope Francis’ second visit to Turkey. His first was in 2014 to mark the feast day of Saint Andrew, the patron of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Bartholomew visited to Rome on several occasions, and in 2013 became the first Ecumenical Patriarch to be present at a Papal inauguration.

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