(Armenian News Agency) - Pope Francis, the religious leader of the Catholic world, who recognized the Armenian Genocide, is expected to visit Turkey next year. As reported by Armenpress, quoting the Today's Zaman, which got the news from sources close to the Vatican, preparations are under way for the Istanbul visit of the new pope, which is expected to take place in November in 2014.
Armenian Genocide memorial in Buenos Aires
Istanbul-based Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew attended the installation Mass of Pope Francis in Vatican City in March, in a first-of-its-kind move since the 1054 break that led to the creation of the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic branches of Christianity, along with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ.
Following the Mass, Bartholomew revealed that the new pope had told him he wanted to pay a visit to Turkey. The pope's expected visit - also considered a reciprocation for that of Bartholomew - bears great importance for the Catholic and Orthodox churches, as the meeting in Istanbul between the pope and the Greek Orthodox ecumenical patriarch, one of the leading figures of the Orthodox world (also known as Eastern Christianity) is seen as a way of increasing dialogue between Eastern and Western Christianity.
The timing of the pope's visit is also telling. November 30 is the anniversary of the foundation of the Church of Byzantium and of its official recognition by Rome in the year 330. The Orthodox, who celebrate this as the feast day of St. Andrew, with reference to the apostle who founded the Church of Byzantium in Istanbul, celebrate with a liturgy at the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Pope Benedict XVI, the predecessor of the present pope, paid a visit to Turkey upon the invitation of then-Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in 2006 and had attended a liturgy on November 30 celebrating the feast of St. Andrew together with Patriarch Bartholomew.
Although the date for the visit of the pope is not yet set, sources say there is a strong possibility that he will be in Istanbul on November 30. It's not clear yet whether the pope, who is expected to stay at the Vatican's representation in Istanbul, will also visit Ankara.
The newly elected Pope Francis, who recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2005 in Buenos Aires on the occasion of the erecting a cross stone dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide on the 90th anniversary of the Genocide, said that he desired to be buried under that monument. The statements made on the Armenian Genocide raised discontent and anxiety in Turkey.