Pope Francis to visit Turkey next year, Ecumenical Patriarch says

By Thomson Reuters May 16, 2024 | 12:06 PM

LISBON (Reuters) – Pope Francis is planning to visit Turkey next year to mark the anniversary of the First Council of Nicaea, the spiritual head of the world’s Orthodox Christians said on Thursday.

The early centuries of Christianity were marked by lively debate about how Jesus could be both God and man, and the Church decided the issue at the First Council of Nicaea in 325.

“His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to celebrate this important anniversary together,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who is based in Istanbul, said at an event in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.

He said Francis was planning to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul before heading to the city of Iznik, where the First Council of Nicaea took place.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said a committee was being formed to organise the visit and that the Vatican would soon contact the Turkish government about it.

Francis will turn 88 in December. International travel for him is increasingly difficult, given his health.

He uses a cane or a wheelchair to move around because of a knee problem, and earlier this year avoided public speaking and skipped important engagements on several occasions, including a Good Friday procession in March.

However, he is scheduled to travel to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Singapore in early September, and expected to visit Belgium later in that month.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony in Lisbon and Alvise Armellini in Rome; Editing by Timothy Heritage)