Pope Benedict XVI sent a delegation to Istanbul Nov. 30 to mark celebrations of the Feast of St. Andrew, the traditional patron of the Orthodox Church.
In a message delivered to Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the Pope urged greater efforts towards unity and praised the patriarch’s “promotion of Christian values” on the world stage.
"In a world characterized by increasing interdependence and solidarity, we are called to proclaim the truth of the Gospel with renewed conviction, and to present the risen Lord as the response to the most profound spiritual questions and aspirations of the men and women of today,” the Pope said.
"In order to carry out this great enterprise," he added, "we must continue along the path towards full communion, showing that we have already united our strengths for a shared witness of the Gospel before the people of our time.”
The Pope’s message was carried by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He led the delegation that took part in a special liturgy presided over by Patriarch Bartholomew, at the Church of St. George at Fanar.
The Orthodox patriarch traditionally reciprocates by sending a delegation to Rome for the Church’s celebration of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.