Preparations are underway for the Istanbul visit of Pope Francis, which is expected to take place in November 2014, English-language daily Today's Zaman reported Monday with reference to Vatican sources.
The invitation was extended by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew while attending the pontiff's inaugural Mass in March. This, by the way, was the first-of-its-kind move since the 1054 break that led to the schism between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.
According to Today's Zaman, Francis might well be in Istanbul on November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew, patron saint of the Greek Orthodox church. It is also the anniversary of the foundation of the Church of Byzantium and of its official recognition by Rome in the year 330.
It is yet to be specificated whether the visit will be limited to inter-church contacts only of include events to strengthen the bridge between two religions.
Pope Francis’ predecessors also visited Turkey. Benedict XVI came to Istanbul in 2006 to "reiterate the solidarity between the cultures, as this is our duty". Popes Paul VI and John Paul II visited Turkey in 1967 and 1979, respectively. They met local religious leaders, visited historical mosques and even prayed there.