The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople; Bartholomew I will attend today’s inauguration mass of Pope Francis, chidi opara reports learned.
The Patriarch Of Constantinople is considered as first among equals in the Eastern Orthodox Communion.
The Constantinople Patriarchy and Rome broke relationship in 1054. No Patriarch of Constantinople has been known to attended the inauguration of a Pope since then.
The presence of the Patriarch is considered historic.
Rev. Fr. James Puglisi; director of Centro Pro Unione, an Ecumenical Centre in Rome said that the participation of Bartholomew I is a strong signal in favour of ecumenical dialogue.
“First of all, it’s recognition of two local churches, the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople, which has ecclesiological significance. And the second reason is that the Metropolitan of Pergoman, John Zizioulas, who is the co-chair of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, is going to accompany him,” Puglisi said.
“So I think the importance of this is a way of showing, from the Orthodox side, the willingness to go further in this dialogue and to breach the divisions that have kept us apart for centuries,” the director added.
“They see in Pope Francis a person who has accepted a simple lifestyle, one that conforms to the Gospel. And emphasizing, first and foremost, that he is bishop of Rome, and I think that was really important. When he appeared, he spoke to his Church, who now elected him as head. And so, I know the Romans are very pleased with that, but I think it has ecumenical significance that shows that he intends to exercise his ministry, first and foremost, as bishop of Rome.” Fr. Puglisi emphasized.
The Coptic, Syrian, Armenian Orthodox churches and the Lutherans, Methodists and Baptists would also attend.
The head of the Orthodox Church in America and the head of the Taizé, an Ecumenical Community in France are expected to attend.