(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis today received a gift from the Orthodox leader, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew 1st to recall the signing of a Joint Declaration between their predecessors exactly 50 years ago. On December 7th 1965, on the eve of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, lifted the mutual excommunications which had been imposed following the great schism of 1054.
In the Vatican this morning Pope Francis met with the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch who had just returned from a visit to the Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul. The Cardinal lead a delegation to the Turkish capital to mark the November 30th feast day of St Andrew, patron of the Orthodox world. He brought back with him as a gift from Patriarch Bartholomew to the Pope a picture of the two Church leaders in Istanbul during the papal visit to Turkey last November.
Speaking after his Angelus address in St Peter’s square yesterday, Pope Francis noted that it was particularly providential that the anniversary of this historic gesture of reconciliation between their two predecessors should be remembered at the very beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
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