Pope Francis sent “a spiritual embrace to dear brother Patriarch Bartholomew,” Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, on the eve of the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, celebrated on Monday, June 29, 2020.
After the Angelus on Sunday, June 28, the Holy Father mentioned that it “is a tradition that a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople comes to Rome; however, this year this isn’t possible given the pandemic.” Therefore, the Pontiff expressed a greeting to the Orthodox Patriarch “in the hope” that “our mutual visits” will be taken up again “when possible.” Pope Francis recalled this tradition also at the Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica the same day, explaining that the purpose of the mutual visits is to walk towards unity between Christians. “Peter and Andrew were brothers and, when possible, we exchange fraternal visits during our respective feasts, not so much out of kindness but to walk together toward the end the Lord indicates to us: full unity,” he said.
The Holy Father also stressed his closeness to the Orthodox, particularly with the Ecumenical Patriarch. “Today they were unable to come given the traveling problems caused by the coronavirus; however, when I went down to venerate Peter’s remains, I felt in my heart, close to me my beloved brother Bartholomew. They are here, with us,” he said.