His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians around the world, welcomed His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church, at Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul.
"Your Holiness and most beloved brother in Christ, we welcome you with great joy, honour and love. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord", stressed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as he greeted Pope Benedict XVI.
This warm greeting of the two Primates of the Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church, and the realization of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Istanbul, brings a message of love and peace for millions of Christians around the world.
It is significant that this is the first official visit of the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church to Istanbul in the past 27 years. The previous visit was in 1979 when Patriarch Demetrios welcomed Pope John Paul II. This visit also constitutes a historical continuity of previous meetings of Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI, who proclaimed the lifting of the anathemas (excommunications), which accompanied the great Schism of the Church and divided Christianity in 1054.
Ecumenical Patriarch was accompanied at the airport by
Archbishop Demetrios of America and Metropolitan
Pergamon, the Co-President of the Joint International Commission
for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the
Roman Catholic Church.