Pope Francis will be in Bari (Italy) on Saturday, 7 July, for the ecumenical meeting of reflection and prayer with the Patriarchs and Heads of Christian Churches of the Middle East. The event will be introduced by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Unity of Christians. “The idea of a meeting like the one to be held in Bari was conceived a long time ago by various people – Cardinal Sandri remarked – different Churches or Patriarchs expressed this desire personally to the Holy Father. In Bari, Pope Francis will be joined in prayer by Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and the entire Africa.”
The event, of great ecumenical value in itself and unprecedented in the history of ecumenism, will consist of two moments: the prayer meeting along the seafront promenade together with the faithful, and a moment of reflection and mutual listening between the Holy Father and Heads of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the Middle East, where each will contribute with their own standpoints, observations and proposals. The city of Bari is called the “window on the East” since it guards the ancient tomb of St. Nicolas, venerated by Catholics and the Orthodox alike.