Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Benedict XVI walked alongside each other amid the sound of church bells after a day of worship, ecumenical dialogue, and fraternal embrace.
In a mutual statement of ecclesiastical solidarity, the two Church leaders renewed their commitment to work towards the restoration of Full Communion between the two Churches.
His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s gift to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was an ancient book of the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament).
Patriarch Bartholomew said: “Your Holiness, in remembrance of your blessed visit to our Church, expressing to you both our joy and gratitude, we offer to you this Holy Gospel, on the first page of which is inscribed: ‘You are the imitators of Christ’. Let us be therefore imitators of our common Lord and Savior,” said the Patriarch, “praying and working for love, unity and peace to prevail in our Churches and the whole world”.
The Pope's visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate came at the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians world-wide. It was the first visit of a Pope to the Ecumenical Patriarchate since 1979.
Pope Benedict XVI attended services celebrated by Ecumenical Patriarchal Bartholomew and his Holy Synod in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George for the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, the Patron Saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.