Bartholomew I invites Pope Francis to Istanbul

Formal invitation from Turkish President needed

Bartholomew I invites Pope Francis to Istanbul

Ankara, March 22 - The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I on Friday invited Pope Francis to the Phanar, the seat of the patriarchate in Istanbul. "We believe that Pope Francis will serve Christians and humankind," the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church said. "We will work together to further Christian unity," he added. Bartholomew I attended the Argentine pope's inauguration mass at St Peter's Basilica in Rome on Tuesday after he was elected by a conclave of cardinals to succeed Benedict XVI last week. Francis needs a formal invitation from Turkish President Abdullah Gul in order to visit the country. "The pope said he would like to come to Turkey," said the Ecumenical Patriarch. "The president must invite him and I am sure that he will come". Francis has already made the pursuit of dialogue with other Christian denominations and other religions a characteristic of his week-long pontificate.

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