ISTANBUL - Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill gave the message of solidarity and unity in their meeting in Istanbul on Saturday.
Patriarch Kirill arrived in
They were expected to discuss the sensitive issue of the churches in
Priests kissed Kirill's hands and children gave him flowers when he arrived to the sound of bells ringing at the Patriarchal Church of Saint George, where he blessed parishioners and prayed at icons, Reuters reported.
"I hope my visit will be the start of a renewal in our relationship," Kirill told reporters before his talks with Patriarch Bartholomew.
He said he agrees with the message of Bartholomew that the two institutions find themselves as members of a joint church.
Bartholomew, an ethnic Greek but a Turkish citizen, said Kirill's presence in
Relations between the Churches have been strained in the past because Churches in some former Soviet states, such as
A spokesman for Bartholomew said the Churches of Estonia and
Kirill will attend a joint mass with Bartholomew on Sunday and is expected to hold talks with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul when he then visits
Kirill, leader of 160 million Russian Orthodox believers, is seen as an outspoken modernizer who may thaw ties with the Catholic Church. He was de facto "foreign minister" of the