Patriarch Bartholomew meets with a CCEE delegation led by Cardinal Bagnasco

Istanbul, Turkey, 5 March 2017


On Sunday 5 March in Istanbul, the ancient Christian city of Constantinople-Byzantium, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of CCEE (Council of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe) met His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Patriarchal See of Phanar. The meeting took place after the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of Saint George at the Phanar, presided over by the Patriarch himself to mark the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the First Sunday of Lent when the Orthodox Church recalls the restoration of the sacred icons in the Basilica of Sancta Sophia in 843 after the end of the iconoclast crisis.

Also present at the Phanar, as members of the CCEE delegation, were Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, former President of CCEE (2006-2016), and Mgr Duarte da Cunha, CCEE General Secretary.

After the Divine Liturgy, the Patriarch received the two Cardinals, testifying to the great desire to work together with the new CCEE president and recalling the good outcome of the collaboration undertaken so far with CCEE, especially through the realisation of the European Catholic-Orthodox Forum. “We gain great courage and inspiration from this collaboration”, the Patriarch said. “Today more than ever, our Churches are called to defend Christian principles and stand together in the face of the unprecedented challenges and threats against Christianity”. According to Patriarch Bartholomew, it is necessary to promote an ethos, build bridges and discover new forms of evangelisation in the European arena.

For his part, Cardinal Bagnasco thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch for his invitation and also echoed the strong conviction about the need to pursue industrious and fruitful collaboration through the European Catholic-Orthodox Forum.

The common harmony about the urgent need to pursue reflection and joint commitment was then given concrete expression by the joint decision to hold a sixth European Catholic-Orthodox Forum in the course of 2018.

In the evening, the delegation met the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Turkey, His Grace Mgr Lévon Zékiyan, Archbishop of the Armenian Archeparchy of Istanbul.

On the morning of Monday 6 March, after the celebration of Mass in Istanbul’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, the delegation met the Latin Apostolic Vicar, His Grace Mgr Ruben Tierrablanca Gonzales, and the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, His Lordship Mgr Paolo Bizzeti SJ.



Additional information

A selection of photographs are available at the following address:

The European Orthodox-Catholic Forum stems from the desire to discuss anthropological, pastoral and cultural issues of crucial importance for the present and future of humanity in Europe and in the entire world with the aim of helping to define common stances on social, political, moral and economical issues and does not tackle theological doctrinal matters, which are treated at other levels. The Forum does not at all substitute the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church which has been at work since 1980.

The First European Orthodox-Catholic Forum was held in 2008 (11-14 December) in Trent, Italy under the theme: The family: a good for humanity; the Second Forum took place on the Greek island of Rhodes, Greece in 2010 (18-22 October) under the theme: Church-State relations; the Third Forum took place in Lisbon, Portugal in 2012 (5-8 June) under the theme: The economic crisis and poverty. Challenges for today’s Europe; and the Fourth Forum was held in Minsk, Belarus in 2014 (2-6 June) under the theme: Religion and cultural diversity: challenges for the Christian Churches in Europe. The Acta of the previous Forums’ Meetings have been published in four volumes by Editrice Dehoniane in the Oggi e Domani series. 

The news release is available in English and Italiano.