The Vatican announced that on Tuesday, September 17, Pope Francis received in audience, in the Vatican, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I and his entourage, and the Bishops of India.
A press release of the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, specified that the “meeting unfolded in a fraternal atmosphere and was followed by lunch, with the respective delegations, in Saint Martha’s House.”
“Before the meeting, at the invitation of Monsignor Semeraro, Secretary of the Council of Cardinals, the Patriarch greeted briefly the Cardinals, Members of the Council, and he stressed to them the value of synodality in the Orthodox Church and assured them of his prayers,” said Matteo Bruni. The Vatican’s photographic service published photos of the audience.
The Patriarch also met with Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The Patriarch offered Pope Francis a precious chalice for the Eucharistic celebration and his book. Among others things the Pope offered the Patriarch a medallion of some 20 centimeters representing the Virgin and Child.
As is known the month of September is dedicated to the message for the protection of creation. Pope Francis chose the date September 1 for the prayer for the preservation of the planet, in reference to the date already chosen by the Orthodox. With the Patriarch, author of “And God Saw that It Was Good” (Cerf, 2015), the Pope was able to refer to the forthcoming Synod on the Amazon. Recently, the Patriarch published a statement on the forest fires in the world.
The Patriarch also announced the holding in May 2020 of a 4th summit against modern slaveries, a subject on which the Pope has also mobilized the Catholic Church.
In the past, the Patriarch joined Pope Francis for a visit to the refugee camp of Moria, on the Greek Island of Lesbos on April 16, 2016. And, with the Orthodox Archbishop of Athens, Ieronymos, they signed a Joint Statement on the situation of refugees, saying: “The tragedy of migration and forced displacement affects millions of people, and it is fundamentally a crisis of humanity, which calls for a response of solidarity, of compassion, of generosity and an engagement of immediate and practical resources.” It’s another subject of common concern.
On May 25, 2014, during a “fraternal meeting,” they signed a Joint Declaration at Jerusalem, hailing a “new and necessary stage on the path of communion in legitimate diversity.”
Recently, the Pontiff wrote the Preface of the Patriarch’s book: “Bartholomew: Apostle and Visionary,” of John Chryssavgis (Cerf, 2016, 306 p., 25 euros).
On June 29, 2019 Pope Francis also offered the Patriarch a relic of Saint Peter.
This morning, the Holy Father also received a second group of 54 Catholic Bishops of India on their ad Limina Visit.