Pope calls for full Christian unity

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Sunday prayed in the Turkish city of Istanbul for unity between Catholics and the Orthodox Christians.

During the last day of his visit to Turkey, Pope Francis attended Sunday’s ceremony at the Orthodox cathedral of St. George, Xinhua reported.

The two spiritual leaders then signed a joint declaration giving strong messages of the full unity between the two churches.

“We, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, express our profound gratitude to God for the gift of this new encounter,” the declaration said.

Pope Francis also highlighted that the foundation of a full unity would be mutual respect.

“The unity would recognise neither a dominance of one side nor the assimilation of the other.”

The Catholic and Orthodox churches separated in 1054 mainly over differences on the primacy of the papacy. During the period, there was a tradition that patriarchs had to kiss the pope’s feet.

Pope Francis’ three-day tour is the fourth visit by a pontiff to Turkey.