Pope Francis’ visit to the southern Italian Adriatic port city of Bari will be an occasion to once again affirm the Church’s closeness with persecuted Christians in the Middle East, Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch said.
As the birthplace of Christianity, the Middle East plays a special role in promoting a path toward unity, the cardinal said.
“The Middle East, which is a martyred region, is a place where ecumenical relations are strongest and most promising, particularly between Orthodox and Catholics,” said Cardinal Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Cardinal Koch, along with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect for the Congregation for Eastern Churches, updated journalists on 3rd July on the pope’s trip to Bari, where he will host a day of reflection and ecumenical prayer for peace in the Middle East.
Picture: Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople embrace during a 2014 prayer service in the patriarchal Church of St George in Istanbul. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).