Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met with Pope Francis

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican on 17 September 2019, during his visit to Italy to deliver the keynote address on 16 September at the 24th International Congress of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches, marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Society of which he was a founding member, and to officially visit the Italo-Albanase Eparchy of Lungro in Calabria for its 100th anniversary between 18-20 September.

The meeting between Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch, held in “a fraternal atmosphere”, was marked by an exchange of gifts and followed by a lunch together with the respective delegations at Casa Santa Marta. Before the meeting, at the invitation of Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary of the Council of Cardinals, the Ecumenical Patriarch made a brief greeting to the cardinal members of the Council and emphasized to them the value of synodality in the Orthodox Church and assured them of his prayer. Continue reading

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed the 24th International Congress of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was the keynote speaker of the 24th International Congress of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches, which was held in Rome from 16-20 September 2019 on the theme “Fifty Years of Encounter Among the Eastern Churches: How Canon Law Assists in the Ecumenical Dialogue”.  The Society brings together experts from the Eastern Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Churches.  This momentous occasion marked the 50th Anniversary since the founding of the Society and provided an opportunity for participants to reflect upon these fifty years of encounter and how the canonical tradition has assisted in the development of the Ecumenical dialogue.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who was one of the founding members of the Society and served as its first Vice-President after its founding in 1969, stressed in his keynote address that “the role of the Society cannot but be actively supportive of the Roman-Catholic – Orthodox formal theological dialogue. Our mixed theological committee could find useful relevant material to that end in the papers and conclusions of the Society’s congresses”. He reminded that “in terms of the importance of canon law for the advancement of the theological dialogue between the two sister Churches, the Ravenna Agreed Statement affirms: ‘In order for there to be full ecclesial communion, there must be, between our Churches, reciprocal recognition of canonical legislations in their legitimate diversities’ (§ 16).” Therefore, according to the Ecumenical Patriarch, “it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to reach the conclusion that the perception of canon law as a tool for the promotion of the ecumenical dialogue is deeply embedded within the DNA of the Society.” Continue reading

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: The gift of the relics is a crucial step

In an exclusive interview by Andrea Tornielli for with Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople speaks of his surprise at Pope Francis’ unexpected gift, and says how the key to evangelization is through service. He also mentions the fires in the Amazon, and explains the spiritual and theological reasons why we need to be committed to the environment. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople, has described Pope Francis’ gift of a portion of the relics of Saint Peter as “a new milestone” and a “crucial step” in the journey towards Christian unity.

Your Holiness, what was your first reaction when you received Pope Francis’ gift of the reliquary containing the nine fragments of the bones believed to be those of the Apostle Peter?

“I must admit that at the beginning we were very surprised to learn that His Holiness, our brother Pope Francis, was giving us such a treasure. This gesture surprised many. Not even the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that was in Rome for the patronal feast of our Sister Church expected it. Usually this type of event is the subject of protocol discussions. It was not so this time. We sincerely appreciate this gift, which is the manifestation of spontaneity, a sign of the true fraternal love that today unites Catholics and Orthodox”. Continue reading

Letter of Pope Francis to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Concerning the Gift of the Relics of Saint Peter

His Holiness Pope Francis of Rome has sent the following letter to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on 30 August 2019 in which he explains the gift of the relics of Saint Peter, delivered to the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Feast of St. Peter and Paul:

To His Holiness Bartholomew
Archbishop of Constantinople
Ecumenical Patriarch

Your Holiness, dear Brother,

With deep affection and spiritual closeness, I send you my cordial good wishes of grace and peace in the love of the Risen Lord. In these past weeks, I have often thought of writing to you to explain more fully the gift of some fragments of the relics of the Apostle Peter that I presented to Your Holiness through the distinguished delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate led by Archbishop Job of Telmessos which took part in the patronal feast of the Church of Rome. Continue reading

International Conference on “The Theological Legacy of Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky”

An International Conference on “The Theological Legacy of Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky” was organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his death by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in cooperation with the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies in Thessaloniki and held in Istanbul on 1-3 September 2019. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew opened the conference by an introductory address in the presence of the hierarchs, clergymen, and distinguished university professors participating in the conference, in which he stressed that Florovsky’s work is and will remain the inspiration and the direction of the theological work for generations to come, calling Fr. Georges Florovsky “a preeminent figure of the Church and of Theology, a great scholar of Patristics, a professor and writer, a renowned theologian and, according to his disciple Metropolitan John of Pergamon, an ecumenical teacher.”

“A central focus of Florovsky’s thought and witness was the creative return to the Fathers,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch while referring to Florovsky’s engagement of more than fifty years in theology. The keynote speach also focused on Florovsky’s contribution to inter-Christian dialogue: “East and West are parts of a Christian world that, according to God’s plan, should not have split.” His All-Holiness quoted  Florovsky who used to say: “The tragedy of division is the biggest and most critical problem in Christian history,” before adding:  “The message of Orthodoxy is too true to stay on the sidelines of the debate on the big contemporary questions and problems. […] It requires study, extensive theological work, a ‘quick mind’ and a ‘pure heart’ to reveal to us the richness of Patristic wisdom, to find the answers to many misunderstandings of Orthodox teaching that are circulating inside and outside of Orthodoxy today.” Continue reading

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s Statement on the Global Wildfires

In recent weeks, our planet has witnessed extreme heatwaves and expansive wildfires throughout the world—from the rain forests of the Amazon and desert regions of Africa, normally snow-covered regions such as the Arctic and Alaska to far away countries from Spain to Siberia. Month after month, we have experienced record temperatures and unprecedented heatwaves, resulting in the destruction of millions of acres and the disruption of millions of people. And the intensity of these fires and storms is progressively increasing and intensifying, mandating critical and commensurate changes on our part.

Scientists warn us about the threat of such fires to the world’s ecosystems, which are becoming increasingly jeopardized and vulnerable. The impact of these fires could reverberate for generations, affecting soil, infrastructure, and human beings. Trees are vital for the soil, for our survival and for our soul. Trees are not simply valuable for their aesthetic beauty or commercial benefit, but essentially for our defense against climate change. Planting more trees is certainly commendable, but cutting down less trees is perhaps the most compelling response to global warming. Continue reading

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew attended the 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace in Lindau (Germany) from 20-23 August 2019 where he delivered the keynote address. Religions for Peace, in partnership with the Foundation Peace Dialogue of the World Religions and Civil Society, is the world’s most representative, multi-religious gathering of religious communities. Every 5-7 years, Religions for Peace convenes a World Assembly for the purpose of forging a deep moral consensus on contemporary challenges, electing a new World Council and advancing multi-religious action across and beyond the Religions for Peace network.

The Religions for Peace 10th World Assembly, under the theme “Caring for our Common Future: Advancing Shared Well-being,” was attended by 800 senior religious leaders, youth and women of faith from over 100 countries, joined by 100 representatives of governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society groups to forge multi-stakeholder partnerships for the common good. Previous Religions for Peace Assemblies have resulted in highly effective multi-religious projects in peacebuilding and development in all word regions. Continue reading

Visit of the President of Ukraine to the Ecumenical Patriarchate

The President of Ukraine, Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky, paid a visit to the See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Phanar on 8 August 2019 and was received with the honors provided by the Patriarchal Protocol. President Zelensky, who was accompanied by the Ambassador of Ukraine to Ankara, Mr. Andrii Sybiha, the Consul General of Ukraine in Instanbul, Mr. Oleksandr Gaman, and a large delegation of officials of the Presidency; arrived in the Chamber of the Throne, in the main building of the Patriarchal headquarters, where the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew awaited and welcomed him, in the presence of Hierarchs of the Throne. The Ecumenical Patriarch held a private meeting with the President of Ukraine at the official Patriarchal Office for more than an hour.

“Your visit comes after the publication and promulgation of the Tomos of Autocephaly for the newly established Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which, we request, will always have your high protection and your support for the work that has already begun in Ukraine. We, in Constantinople, who have given you baptism 1,031 years ago, have given autocephaly, the ability for your Church to carry out her work independently and unaffected by any outside intervention. Constantinople will not interfere with the internal affairs of the Church in Ukraine. She is completely independent and autocephalous. From here, from Constantinople, from the Phanar, she will only have high protection and our continued prayers for the success of her work,” he said, welcoming the Ukrainian President. “We send the blessing and love of the Mother of the Church of Constantinople, in the person of your dear Excellency, to the whole pious Ukrainian people.” For his part, President Zelenskyy expressed his pleasure for the visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and for the honor of meeting with His All-Holiness. Continue reading

Ecumenical Patriarch will visit Mount Athos in October

On 3 August 2019, a Delegation of the Holy Community of Mount Athos, consisting of Monk Nikodemos of the Great Lavra, Monk Nikodemos of the Monastery of Saint Paul and Hieromonk Sisoes of Xenophontos Monastery, had a meeting with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to prepare the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch on Mount Athos on 19-22 October 2019. Continue reading

International Conference on the Theological Heritage of Fr. Georges Florovsky

An International Conference on “The Theological Heritage of Fr. Georges Florovsky” is organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his death by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul on 1-3 September 2019. Hierarchs, clergy, distinguished university professors and theologians from universities from all over the world  will attend the International Conference which will be inaugurated by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Fr. Florovsky was a groundbreaking theologian and professor, and has been described as the “Chief of the Orthodox Theologians” of the twentieth century. His inspiring appeal to the theologians to return to the patristic sources and to acquire the spirit of the Fathers, as well as his appeal to the Church to respond to historical and ecumenical challenges of our time was a landmark for Orthodox theology which influenced the Christian thought until today. Continue reading