Feast of Saint Andrew
Istanbul, 30 November 2021


Your All Holiness,

As in other years, Pope Francis has sent a delegation to you so that, on behalf of the Church of Rome, it may personally convey warmest greetings and heartfelt blessings to the beloved sister Church of Constantinople at the end of the Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the feast of St. Andrew, the patron Saint of your Church. This year, this token of solidarity and appreciation is particularly important, not only because the Holy Father wants to express his special closeness to the Church of Constantinople at this time of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, but also because Your All Holiness celebrated this year, more precisely on October 2nd, the 30th anniversary of your election as Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, an event that has filled us with deep joy.

It has been a source of concern to us that Your All Holiness required hospitalization twice during your trip to America and that the doctors had to operate to insert a stent into your heart. We hope that this surgical measure will help you to continue your ecclesial service in good health. When I read about it in the media, the thought crossed my mind that we perceive Your All Holiness as a living stent in the heart of your Church, in the heart of ecumenism and also in your commitment to the protection of God’s creation entrusted to us humans. In all of these aspects you demonstrate deep care about the flow of oxygen, just as the stent inside a heart helps it to breathe easily.

In this spirit of grateful appreciation and solidarity, I extend to you the greetings and blessings of Pope Francis, your beloved brother in the Lord, and convey the message that, in brotherly love, he has addressed to you, dear All Holiness, to the Holy Synod, to the whole Church of Constantinople and to all the sisters and brothers gathered here in the Church of St. George for the Divine Liturgy.