VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The visit by the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople will include meetings and culminate with the inauguration of a Roman church, a gift of John Paul II to the Orthodox community.
Patriarch Bartholomew I’s visit Tuesday, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, will commemorate the 1964 meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I in Jerusalem after the schism of 1054.
Bartholomew I, who previously visited John Paul II in 1995, and his entourage arrived in Rome today and were received by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for general affairs of the Vatican Secretariat of State.
The Orthodox guests will stay at the St. Martha’s Residence in the Vatican until their departure Friday, the Vatican Information Service reported.
Tuesday morning, the patriarch will meet with the Pope in the Apostolic Palace. They will exchange speeches and gifts and sign a common declaration.
The patriarch will then see the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and visit St. Peter’s Basilica where he will pray at the Altar of the Cathedra and at Paul VI’s tomb.
In the afternoon, the patriarch will participate in a Mass in St. Peter’s Square, presided over by John Paul II.
On Wednesday, the traditional bilateral talks between the Holy See and Fanar (site of the patriarchal see in Istanbul, Turkey) will take place. In the afternoon, the patriarch will receive an honor from the city of Rome and later will be welcomed by the Community of Sant’Egidio in his patronal church of St. Bartholomew.
Metropolitan Archbishop Gennadios of the Greek-Orthodox in Italy, who is also exarch for Southern Europe of the Ecumenical Throne, asked Bartholomew I to preside at the inauguration on Thursday of the liturgical use of the church of St. Theodore in Rome.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the Diocese of Rome, has entrusted the church to the Greek-Orthodox community in Rome for liturgical celebrations and pastoral care upon the express wishes of the Pope.
The patriarch will meet again with John Paul II during a luncheon in the Apostolic Palace in which members of the entourage will also participate.