Thursday, 30 November 2006

Meeting the Patriarch

The Holy Father is in Turkey, and much Press coverage focusses on his relations with Islam. However, for Catholics the most significant part of his visit is his meeting with the Orthodox patriarch Bartholomew. A group from the Cathedral had the privilege of meeting him two years ago, when we visited Istanbul on pilgrimage. The Patriarch was a deeply impressive character, radiating holiness and intelligence, and deeply interested in the Byzantine heritage of Westminster Cathedral. He spoke flawless English, and told us that he had studied in Rome -undoubtedly this contributes to his openness to the Latin Church. Our meeting with him took place a few days before he travelled to Rome again, to collect the relics of St John Chrysostom. At his side is Archbishop Gregorios, head of the Orthodox Church in Great Britain (and a familiar figure to us at the Cathedral) who was visiting Istanbul at the time.

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