ROME, NOV. 28, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A Holy See delegation will participate Sunday in Istanbul in the celebrations for the feast of the Apostle St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The delegation, headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will bear a message from John Paul II.
“With our presence, we hope to enhance relations with the different local and Orthodox Churches of Istanbul and to show them and the whole of Turkey our friendship and solidarity after the recent attacks,” Monsignor Johan Bonny, official of the Eastern section of the council, told SIR, the news agency of the Italian episcopate. Suicide attacks in Istanbul targeted two synagogues Nov. 15, and two British targets five days later.
The secretary of the apostolic nunciature in Turkey and president of the Ecumenism Commission of the Turkish episcopal conference, Monsignor Georges Marovitch, said: “It is the occasion to consolidate dialogue and friendship with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. There can be no going back on the ecumenical path.”
The Holy See delegation’s traditional presence in Istanbul corresponds to the visit of envoys of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who every year come to Rome on June 29 for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The program includes a liturgical celebration and a meeting, between the Vatican delegation and some metropolitans of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, on Nov. 30.
Visits are also planned to Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II of Istanbul, and to Bishop Filuksinos of the Syro-Orthodox Church.
Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is also a member of the Holy See delegation, which will be joined in Istanbul by Monsignor Edmond Farhat, apostolic nuncio in Turkey.