Patriarch of Constantinople Will Attend Inauguration of Pope Francis

A Constantinople patriarch will attend pope’s inaugural mass for the first time since the Great Schism between the Western and Eastern churches, Vatican Radio said.


  1. I find it interesting that the day after his inauguration that Pope Francis is going to meet with Eastern Church leaders. What is this about? Is it customary?

    One news report also commented on the Pope’s outreach to Eastern Churches, a trait that he said few people have noticed. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis served as Ordinary of Eastern-rite Catholics in Argentina, who lacked their own ordinary.,-ecumenical-patriarch-to-attend-pope's-inaugural-Mass-27408.html

    The ecumenical patriarch will be accompanied by Ioannis Zizioulas, metropolitan of Pergamon and co-president of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church, as well as Tarassios, Orthodox Metropolitan of Argentina, and Gennadios, Orthodox Metropolitan of Italy.

  2. *Very* significant.

    Rocco Palmo reports the pontiff wrote quickly to the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo di Segni, inviting Italy’s ranking Jewish leader to his Installation Mass on Tuesday and promising “a spirit of renewed collaboration” in light of his “lively hope to contribute to the progress” of relations between the two faiths in the spirit of Nostra Aetate.

    Given SSPX’s views on Nostra Aetate, B16’s efforts to reconcile with them are now dead. Perhaps Francis will succeed with the Orthodox. That would be spectacular.

  3. I dunno. If I were a liberal, I wouldn’t welcome this development. I wouldn’t see this as a kum-bah-yah moment. Taking in consideration the good will of the Patriarch, trying not to be cynical, trying to be an impartial observer of timing and ‘geopolitical gestures’ (for lack of a better term), and in no way questioning the Christian motives of the Patriarch, I’d say that he’s reminding the Holy Father of ‘how far we’ve come.’

    In other words:

    “Don’t go wobbly now. Traditional worship (toleration at the very least), traditional Christian morality, and a male-only clergy are the sine qua non of hopes for unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.”

    Maybe I’m wrong. But one has to think that most players on the world’s stage understand these kinds of gestures and the accompanying messages.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #7:
        I may be just plain wrong, but I don’t get the wishful thinking part.

        Two things were behind my hypothesis: 1) It seems that this Pope is very unlikely to be swayed, even by the Patriarch, once his mind is made up; 2) When Benedict XVI visited the Phanar (before Summorum Pontificum, if I recall correctly), he and Bartholomew stood on a balcony together and delivered speeches. The Ecumenical Patriarch spoke strongly in defense of traditional worship, that it must be respected. Both men have strong ideas in various directions; I was merely relating what I believe to be some of Bartholomew’s.

        Again, my assessment could be entirely wrong; maybe I am reading too much into a symbolic gesture.

    1. Didn’t Ecumenical Patriarch Anaxagoras attend a Mass said by Paul VI (during the Council?)

      @Christopher Douglas – comment #6:

      I have a different view than Christopher, but nevertheless there’s a kernel of truth to what he’s saying. While I’m very happy that the Ecumenical Patriarch and perhaps the Chief Rabbi of Rome will attend the inaugural Mass (I wonder if the Archbishop of Canterbury can find time for the event?), it’s important to remember that not one of these religious figures represents the views of all the adherents of their traditions respectively. This shouldn’t stop Pope Francis from extending his extremely generous invitations, but it’s important to keep this goodwill in perspective and not over-interpret the significance.

      What saddens me is that certain traditionalists went bonkers when they found out His Holiness attended Hanukkah services in Buenos Aires. It’s okay to show a gesture of commonweal with other faiths and believers by occasionally attending services of other religions. Does this mean that Pope Francis is an apostate? No way! He gives and returns hospitality, which is a laudable act of human charity.

  4. Since Archbishop Welby’s own installation is on Thursday, Archbishop Sentamu of York, or the NZ Archbishop heading the Anglican Centre in Rome might be the one attending.

    Will Pope Francis (or his successor) return the favour at the enthronement of Bartholomew’s successor when that day happens?

  5. I think that this is less than it appears.

    Relations between Constantinople and Rome have been fairly warm for some time now – this seems like one more incremental step of good will, rather than a major breakthrough. It costs Bartholonew very little to do this, save for a rough reception the next time he visits Mount Athos.

    While Chris Douglas is also over-reading this from another perspective, he’s certainly correct that any (negative) change on those fronts by Rome would damage prospects for any reunion with the Orthodox churches.

    Now, if Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church were to set up a meeting with Pope Francis *that* would be significant. And yet there are positive noises coming out of Moscow about that possibility.

  6. I wondered if Francis’ repeated references to himself as “bishop” rather than “pope” would get the attention of the Orthodox, who might tend to read into that emphasis an interest on the Pope’s part to reinvigorate the idea of collegiality.

    While the Eastern Orthodox are now permitting themselves to acknowledge the Patriarch of Rome as “Protos” of the Christian Church, they will never consent to a Roman Patriarch as their “Supreme Pontiff”. For the Church in the East, the notion of a “Bishop of Earth” who rules the Church unilaterally is entirely out of the question.

    The Pope of Rome would, on the other hand, be welcomed once again as the first Patriarch of the Pentarchy, and I believe that the Patriach of Constantinople would be willing to relinquish the style “Ecumenical Patriarch”. But the right gestures and language have to come from Rome first. It seems to me that Bartholomew might have taken note of Francis’ language and is pleased to encourage Francis’ movement in what the Orthodox would consider the right direction.

    Bartholomew’s attendance at Francis’ investiture is a significant gesture and I smell something interesting cooking on the back burner.

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