Pope Francis begins mending the schism with Orthodox Christians
Pope seeks reconciliation with Orthodox Christians - CNN.comIstanbul (CNN) -- Christianity is a r...
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Pope Francis begins mending the schism with Orthodox Christians
Pope Francis begins mending the schism with Orthodox
Pope seeks reconciliation with Orthodox Christians - CNN.com
Istanbul (CNN) -- Christianity is a religion frayed over the centuries into many denominations. On
Sunday, Pope Francis and the head of a major one vowed to heal one of the church's oldest splits.
The Great Schism of 1054 separated the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Both profess
similar doctrine and worship in similar ways, but a millennium ago, Eastern Orthodoxy rejected the
ultimate authority of the Pope.
Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew I -- the spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians
worldwide -- signed a declaration on Sunday committing to unity between the two churches.
Together, they celebrated a divine liturgy at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul on
Francis' last day in the predominantly Muslim nation -- his first trip there.
Somber intonations and hymns reverberated through the church as the two spiritual leaders prayed
and offered reflections and Francis tried to allay worries.
Unity, not submission
Francis and Istanbul's Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran visit the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, popularly known as
the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul on Saturday, November 29. The Pope is on a three-day visit to the
predominantly Muslim country.
Francis visits the Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul on November 29.
Francis kisses the altar as he arrives to celebrate a Mass inside the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Istanbul
on November 29.
Francis releases a dove at Istanbul's Holy Spirit Cathedral on November 29.
Francis arrives to attend an ecumenical prayer with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the
Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul on November 29.
Francis is welcomed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Istanbul Ataturk airport on
Francis leaves the Ataturk Mausoleum after laying a wreath at the grave site of Mustafa Kemal
Ataturk, founder of the Turkish republic, in Ankara, Turkey, on Friday, November 28.
Pope pauses after laying a wreath at the Ataturk Mausoleum on November 28.
Francis follows Turkish soldiers carrying a wreath at the Ataturk Mausoleum on November 28.
Pope, surrounded by security and officials, walks the grounds of the mausoleum November 28.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomes Pope Francis at the presidential palace in
Ankara on November 28.
Pope holds a press conference aboard his flight to Ankara on November 28.Pope Francis visits
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Photos: Pope Francis visits Turkey
Neither church will submit to nor assimilate the other, the Pope said in his homily, but they will
work "towards the restoration of full Communion."
"I want to assure each one of you here that, to reach the desired goal of full unity, the Catholic
Church does not intend to impose any conditions except that of the shared profession of faith,"
He was at St. George's at the Patriarch's invitation, which he extended shortly after Francis'
Sunday's celebrations marked the feast of St. Andrew, the founder of the Eastern Church. He was
also the older brother of St. Peter, the founding father of the Catholic Church .
'Blood of martyrdom'
In his part of the call for unity, the Orthodox leader alluded to attacks by radical Islamists on
"We no longer have the luxury of isolated action," Bartholomew said. "The modern persecutors of
Christians do not ask which church their victims belong to. The unity that concerns us is regrettably
already occurring in certain regions of the world through the blood of martyrdom."
Over the past decade, first al Qaeda and then ISIS have forced Christians to flee Iraq and Syria.
Far fewer Christians remain in areas under ISIS control. Some rely on their faith in God; others pay
terrorists a protection tax. Growing numbers, especially from Syria, have ended up in Turkey.The
nation is reeling from the influx of around 1.5 million Syrian refugees, the vast majority Muslim.
Religion is also splitting Turkey. Opponents fear its conservative government will weaken the
secular identity of the post-Ottoman Empire.
Instability rages at its border, with ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announcing their
intention to take over large swaths of territory for their self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Fourth pope in Turkey
Francis is the fourth pope to travel to Turkey, following in the footsteps of Paul VI, John Paul II and
The Pope was also expected to meet with young people from the Salesian community from Turkey,
the Middle East and Africa before heading to the airport later Sunday. Salesians, the second largest
Catholic order, help orphans and at-risk children, according to their website.
On Friday, the first day of his visit, Francis called for religious tolerance and dialogue to counter
extremism in the Middle East, as he met with Turkey's leaders.
"Fanaticism and fundamentalism, as well as irrational fears, which foster misunderstanding and
discrimination, need to be countered by the solidarity of all believers," he said.
The world is morally obligated to help Turkey care for the great number of refugees it has taken in,
Erdogan criticizes Islamophobia
In an address given in Francis' presence, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan highlighted what
he said was a disturbing trend of increased racism and Islamophobia in the West, while Islamist
extremism wracks parts of the Middle East.
The world must come together if it wants to combat terrorism, he said.
The Turkish leader also suggested the West should not turn a blind eye to abuses committed by
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while it pursues ISIS.
The timing of the Pope's visit, in this period of unrest, is extremely significant, Erdogan added,
voicing hope that it would lead to an "auspicious era" of improved relations in the world.
CNN's Arwa Damon and Christabelle Fombu contributed to this report