May 27, 2014: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Meets with Israeli and Palestinian Leadership before departing Holy Land
JERUSALEM – His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of over 300 million Orthodox faithful worldwide, departed Israel today, following successful meetings with Pope Francis.
The Ecumenical Patriarch visited Vad Yashem, where he laid a wreath and prayed for the victims of the Holocaust. In his brief statement delivered outside the children's memorial, His All-Holiness said:
Already 70 years have come and gone, and for some, the Holocaust seems to be a story from the distant past. Yet, we still have not completely healed. What is more tragic is that we have not fully comprehended the lessons of this singular event in world history . . .
We condemn every act of terrorism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia. We must publicly profess that a crime against believers of any faith is an abomination in the face of God.
Afterward, His All-Holiness was received by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Office of the Prime Minister and then met with the President of Israel, Shimon Peres at the Official Residence of the President. Later in the afternoon, His All-Holiness traveled to Ramallah to visit President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority.
In his conversation with all three political leaders, His All-Holiness stated:
We were delighted that both President Peres and President Abbas accepted the invitation of our brother, Pope Francis, to visit the Vatican in order to reflect on a peace initiative. We assure you that our wholehearted prayers will accompany them in their travels and their deliberations.
These meetings conclude the Apostolic Pilgrimage, the meeting between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the Holy Land and the commemoration of the 1964 meetings of their predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. The initiative for this meeting originated during the installation of the new Pontiff in March of 2013. In a manifestation of Christian love and mutual respect, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew personally attended the enthronement of Pope Francis. This was the first time in recorded history that a Primate of Constantinople attended the installation of the Primate of Rome. During those celebratory days, the agreement to commemorate this remarkable anniversary was born in their private meeting.
This afternoon, the Ecumenical Patriarch departs Israel for Istanbul from Ben Gurion Airport.
His All-Holiness Bartholomew is the Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch. He is the 269th successor to the First-Called Apostle Andrew, the founder of the 2,000-year old local Christian Church of Constantinople. The Ecumenical Patriarch is a living witness to the world of Orthodoxy's painful and redemptive struggle for religious freedom and to the innate dignity of humankind. As a citizen of Turkey, His All-Holiness' personal experience provides him a unique perspective on the continuing dialogue among the Christian, Islamic and Jewish worlds. He is known throughout the world as the "Green Patriarch" for his groundbreaking environmental initiatives and ecological theology. For his inspiring efforts on behalf of religious freedom and human rights, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was heralded as a Bridge Builder and Peacemaker and awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the U.S. Congress in 1997.
Additional information about the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Pope may be found at: http://www.apostolicpilgrimage.org
Additional information about the Ecumenical Patriarchate and His All-Holiness maybe found at: http://www.patriarchate.org
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