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Christians, East and West, should combat persecution, Pope says in message to Orthodox Patriarch

December 02, 2013

In a message to the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Pope Francis said that all Christians should unite to combat anti-Christian persecution.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, led a Vatican delegation to Istanbul to join with the Ecumenical Patriarch in celebrating the feast of St. Andrew, the patron of the Constantinople see. (The presence of a delegation from Rome at the November 30 celebrations has become an annual tradition, just as delegates from the Orthodox patriarchate travel to the Vatican each year for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.) After attending the Divine Liturgy at the patriarchal church in Phanar, the Vatican representatives met with Patriarch Bartholomew I to present the papal message.

Pope Francis called attention to the Christians “who in many parts of the world experience discrimination and at times pay with their own blood the price of their profession of faith.” He called attention to this year’s 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Constantine, which ended anti-Christian persecution in the Roman empire, and said that Christians of both East and West should pray and work toward a similar rejection of persecution. The Pope continued: “There is likewise an urgent need for effective and committed cooperation among Christians in order to safeguard everywhere the right to express publicly one’s faith and to be treated fairly when promoting the contribution which Christianity continues to offer to contemporary society and culture.”


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