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Pope invites Patriarch to join Synod meeting March 07, 2008

During a brief March 6 conversation with Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Pope Benedict XVI invited the Orthodox leader to join in the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops.

The Holy Father also invited the Ecumenical Patriarch to participate in Vatican ceremonies celebrating the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29. Each year the Constantinople patriarchate sends an ecumenical delegation to Rome for that feast day, just as the Vatican sends delegates to Constantinople for the patronal feast of St. Andrew.

However, the Pope encouraged Patriarch Bartholomew himself to join in the Vatican celebration this year, when the feast day will inaugurate a special year dedicated to St. Paul. If the Orthodox leader accepts the invitation, it would be returning the visit that Pope Benedict paid to Constantinople in November 2006.

The Synod of Bishops will meet in October to discuss the theme: "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church." The Pope's invitation to Patriarch Bartholomew to join in that discussion underlines the warmth of ecumenical relations between the two prelates and between Rome and Constantinople.

During his visit to Rome, the Ecumenical Patriarch spoke at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, of which he is an alumnus. Invoking the image used frequently by the late Pope John Paul II, Patriarch Bartholomew said that the Eastern and Western churches are the two "lungs" of the Christian world, and "must work together in harmony."

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