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The Ecumenical Patriarchate
ISTANBUL – Pope Benedict XVI was enthusiastically greeted by the ringing of church bells upon his arrival at the Ecumenical Patriarchate today for the liturgical celebration of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the Patron Saint of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Byzantine name for present-day Istanbul. The Pope was received by the Ecumenical Patriarch himself, who escorted him into the specially provided Throne in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George.
In the Orthodox Christian tradition, bells are a joyful sound, which calls for prayer and honors the important visitors. The ringing of the church bells at the Ecumenical Patriarchate joyfully celebrated Pope Benedict’s arrival and the of visit Orthodox-Catholic relations.
Pope Benedict’s visit of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is at the personal invitation of His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew.
The Ecumenical Patriarch and the Pope Benedict embraced and exchanged the kiss of peace and love during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
The Pope and his entourage arrived at the church just before the chanting of the Great Doxology for the feast day of St. Andrew.
"The kiss of peace is a sign of reconciliation, a symbol of fellowship of the faithful in the Holy Spirit" said Fr. Dositheos Anagnostopoulos, Patriarchal Press Officer. "In the church, this love is expressed with a kiss and the words: 'Christ is in our midst. He is and shall always be.'"
Also in attendance at today's service were the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and many other religious and political figures from throughout the world.
The liturgical gathering today was one of several events scheduled for the Pope during his three-day
visit with the Ecumenical Patriarch. After the service, the two Christian leaders offered a common blessing to the gathered crowd from the balcony of the Chief Secretariat’s Synod.
The reading and signing of a mutual Declaration concerning Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic relations is expected later in the day.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Patriarchal Press Officer
Tel. +90 212 5210430
Rev. Dr. Frank Marangos
Tel. +90 538 2777495 (cell)