Pope tells Orthodox patriarch he wished he could have visited Turkey
Published: November 30, 2005
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sending representatives to an Orthodox celebration in Istanbul, Turkey, Pope Benedict XVI said he wished he could have been there in person. In a message to Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the pope said he wanted "to be present to assure you personally of my affection for you in the Lord and to pray with you." A Vatican delegation travels to Turkey each year for the Nov. 30 feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the patriarch sends a delegation to Rome for the June 29 celebration of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Pope Benedict had talked about personally leading the 2005 delegation to the patriarchate, in part to mark the 40th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1965, declaration by Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras that canceled "from the church's memory" the mutual excommunications Rome and Constantinople leveled against each other in 1054. The Ecumenical Patriarchate invited the pope to visit this year, but the Turkish government's invitation was for 2006.
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