File photo of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew on 17 September 2019 (Vatican Media)

June 29, 2020

Pope Francis expresses his spiritual closeness with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as the Covid-19 pandemic keeps his delegation from making a traditional visit to Rome.

By Devin Watkins & Christopher Wells

On the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis sent special greetings to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople traditionally exchange “fraternal visits” on the respective feast days of their founders (Sts Peter and Paul for Rome, and St Andrew, the brother of St Peter for Constantinople).

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Patriarchate was unable to send a delegation to Rome.

A beautiful tradition

In off-the-cuff remarks at Mass on Monday, Pope Francis called it a “beautiful tradition” that “unites us in a special way with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.”

The Pope added that when he visited the tomb of St Peter, he felt “in [his] heart” the closeness of Patriarch Bartholomew.

“They are here with us,” he said, even if they could not be present in person.

Spiritual embrace

Later, at the Angelus address, Pope Francis again expressed his spiritual closeness to the Ecumenical Patriarch.

“I spiritually embrace my dear brother, the Patriarch Bartholomew,” he said, “in the hope that our reciprocal visits may resume as soon as possible.”

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