Skip to main content
Read page text

Page Text

✣ For new world stories every day, visit

Vatican Notebook Edward Pentin

BOTH small and grand gestures figured highly during Pope Francis’s visit to Turkey, as has become a trend in this pontificate.

One of the most striking was Francis’s request for the blessing of Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. The Pope proceeded to bow to a surprised Patriarch, who kissed his head.

The Pope has done the same with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, but this is the first time the gesture has been enacted in public.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said “this familiar way” of the Patriarch kissing the Pope’s head was a first, and reflected the depth of friendship between the two leaders that is enabling them to push “with incredible strength toward union”. The gesture was widely praised, though critics saw it as unbefitting of the Vicar of Christ, who needs to uphold papal primacy.

Another major gesture was when Francis prayed with the grand mufti in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, going further than Benedict XVI’s moment of “contemplation” in 2006. Francis told reporters on the plane back that he “prayed for Turkey, for peace, for the mufti, for everyone, for myself because I need it”.

Although praised, the gesture also drew flack, with some arguing it gave moral legitimacy to Islam, conveying that it is “a religion of peace” – a sentiment many disagree with. Critics argue that both gestures promoted an aura of relativism.

A poignant moment without controversy was when the Pope met about 100 Iraqi and Syrian child refugees, telling them he wanted to share in their suffering and give them hope. Just before departing Turkey, he broke from his schedule to visit the Armenian patriarch of Constantinople in hospital.

The Pope’s gestures can be a mixed blessing: often they are controversial, yet capable of engaging a public that may otherwise ignore him.

News in brief ✣

Kidnapped priest freed by militants

A POLISH priest abducted by rebels in the Central African Republic has been freed. Fr Mateusz Dziedzic and 15 hostages were released by a militia group seeking the release of its own leader, held in Cameroon.

Real Madrid removes cross from club crest

REAL MADRID has dropped the cross from its club crest in all its work in the Middle East. The move comes after the football team signed a three-year deal with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

Just one new priest can make all the difference

Could you sponsor a seminarian? If you could, you can be sure he will make a world of difference. Every new priest brings the light of faith and hope to all those around him.

Missio, through the Society of St Peter the Apostle, supports seminarians all around the world. Your sponsorships and gifts help make sure that seminaries stay open and vocations are never turned away. A sponsorship of £42 a month for twelve months, (£500 a year) covers the cost of the year’s training. A £2000 sponsorship pays for the final four years leading to a seminarian’s ordination.

You can find out more about Missio at To make a donation call 020 7821 9755 Missio, 23 Eccleston Square London SW1V 1NU Missio is part of the Pontifical Mission Societies worldwide network. RCN 1056651

For more information please complete and return the coupon to Missio. If you prefer, you can email Missio at There is no obligation but please remember that your support is an investment in the future of our Church. Any gift you can make will bring a real, lasting difference. Thank you.

To: Mgr Canon James Cronin, Missio, 23 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1NU Please send me information about sponsoring a seminarian. Name


S S A 1 4 C H 6



Skip to main content