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Roman Catholic Pope Francis

The day marks the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the patriarchy’s patron saint.

For the first time in the history of the two churches an ecumenical patriarch attended the inauguration ceremony of a pope in Rome when Bartholomew was present at the new pope’s recent enthronement.

The church circles at the Phanar said the date was “very favorable” since Constantinople and the Vatican every year organize high level visits to mark the important holidays “of the two patriarchates.”

A delegation from Constantinople always visits Vatican on June 29, the Feast of St. Peter and Paul.

A return visit from the Vatican happens each year on November 30, usually led by the chairman of the Congregation for the Unity of Christians.

Patriarch Bartholomew has said that he was certain that unity will eventually be achieved between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, but that he “will not live to see it.”

In a conversation with the pope, it was agreed that the theological dialogue between the two churches should intensify, and also be established on environmental issues.

The two dignitaries supported the idea to meet in Jerusalem at the beginning of next year, and again in Rome in 2015, on the occasion of an exhibition dedicated to Mount Athos.

The ecumenical Patriarch emphasized that the two churches must work together on the issues of “justice in the world.”

“We must feed the hungry, dress the naked, help those who suffer,” Bartholomew was quoted as saying.

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