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Thursday, November 25, 2004


VATICAN CITY, NOV 25, 2004 (VIS) - Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I will arrive in Rome tomorrow for a two-day visit during which, in an ecumenical celebration in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday, November 27, he will receive from Pope John Paul the relics of Saints John Chrysostom and Gregory Nazianzus, Bishops and Doctors of the Church.

  Accompanying the patriarch on the plane from Turkey will be Cardinal Roger Etchegaray and Archbishop Edmond Farhat, apostolic nuncio in Turkey. On the return trip to Istanbul, to celebrate the November 30 feast of St Andrew, patron of the ecumenical patriarchate, Bartholomew I will be accompanied by a Holy See delegation comprised of Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Bishop Brian Farrell, Archbishop Farhat and Msgr. Johan J. Bonny.

   Among those who will be at the airport tomorrow to welcome the patriarch will be Cardinal Kasper, Bishop Farrell and Msgr. Fortino, president, secretary and under-secretary of the council, Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, Archbishop Piero Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies and Msgr. Renato Boccardo, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Also present will be the first counselor of the Turkish embassy to the Holy See, and the ambassadors to the Holy See from Greece and Cyprus.

  Patriarch Bartholomew and his delegation will reside at the Vatican's Domus Sanctae Marthae. A welcome dinner offered by the pontifical council will inaugurate the visit to Rome.

  According to a background document from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Patriarch Bartholomew I met John Paul II in Rome on June 29, 2004, at which time he invited the Pope to Istanbul, and also asked if the relics of the saints could be returned from the Vatican, where they were kept in St. Peter's Basilica, to the See of Constantinople. An exchange of letters between the Pope and the Patriarch followed, and this week's encounter is the result of that correspondence.

  "The handing over of the relics," says the communique, "is a deep encouragement to walk the path of unity: the mortal remains of the two Saints, Patriarchs of Constantinople, who did everything possible to safeguard unity between East and West, venerated in their land of origin, welcomed with great honors in the Church of Rome, which for many centuries has preserved and venerated them, walk once again on the path to the East, thanks to this gesture of spiritual sharing which nourishes and fortifies communion between the Sees of Peter and Constantinople."

  Pope John Paul has asked that the relics be placed in two crystal shrines and enclosed in precious alabaster reliquaries. When they arrive in Istanbul on Saturday, they will be placed in a chapel of the patriarchate and, on the feast of St. Andrew, they will be permanently placed in the patriarchal church of St. George.

  Saturday's ceremony in St. Peter's will be transmitted live via television and will be seen in the United States and Greece, among others.
CON-UC/RELICS:VISIT BARTHOLOMEW I/...            VIS 20041125 (500)

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