15 September, 2005
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Wednesday said that Fanar and the Vatican were ready for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Istanbul on November 30, which is the feast day of St. Andrew the First-Called of the Apostles and the Ecumenical throne.
Speaking to reporters in Edessa while on a tour of northern Greece, Bartholomew said he was waiting for an official reply to his invitation to the head of the Catholic Church and noted that "matters between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Vatican are ready".
"Between the Vatican and Ankara, I cannot say. If it is not possible during the feast of the Throne on November 30, then it can take place at another time. The Pope is always wanted and welcome," he added.
Bartholomew said Pope Benedict's visit will give a boost to dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches and help establish a better climate between them.
Asked if Pope Benedict might visit Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, the Patriarch noted that previous popes had done so but that it was strictly a matter for Benedict to decide with the Turkish government, since Haghia Sophia was now a museum.
Source: Athens News Agency