Constantinople, 30 November 2020



Your All Holiness

This year, too, Pope Francis has sent a delegation from Rome to Constantinople so that we can participate in the Feast of Saint Andrew, the Patronal Festival of the Church of Constantinople, praise God at the Divine Liturgy in outward silence but praising the Triune God in our innermost hearts and, at the end of the Liturgy, bring you his fraternal greetings and heartfelt wishes for blessing. Even in these difficult times, in which the whole of humankind is affected by the coronavirus, Pope Francis desires to show his affection for the Church of Constantinople by the presence of a delegation.

There is a long tradition for the reciprocal visits of delegations to mark the respective Patronal Festivals of the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople and they are a fine symbol of mature communion and warm friendship. Our two faith communities are especially committed to doing this. Andrew and Peter were biological brothers and so Constantinople and Rome are sister churches. As such they are called to maintain mutual bonds of solidarity and love and to strengthen one another in faith and love in keeping with the profound words of Saint Paul: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). As Christians we are members of one body and joined to one another in this body.

In the hopeful confidence that the day will come in which we will also be able to receive the Eucharistic body together, we want to grow together in an ever profounder sense in the Body of Christ that is the Church, and also to testify together to our common faith in view of the huge challenges facing us in today’s world.

In this spirit of grateful fellowship I am privileged to convey to you now the greetings and best wishes from Pope Francis, your beloved brother in the Lord, and to read his message, which he addresses in brotherly love to your All Holiness, to the Holy Synod and the whole Church of Constantinople, and to all sisters and brothers gathered here in the Cathedral of St. George for the Divine Liturgy.