Orthodox and Catholics prepare for anniversary of first ecumenical council

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In the 4th century, Emperor Constantine ended persecutions against Christians and became a defender of the faith.

Barely a decade later, he summoned all bishops to Nicaea, in present-day Turkey, to clarify a controversial issue: whether Jesus was equal to the Father and therefore eternal. It was the year 325—this was the first ecumenical council in history and where the Nicene Creed was established. 2025 will mark 1,700 years since that event and there is already an ecumenical event on the table that will include Pope Francis and Patriarch Barltolomew, the leader of the Orthodox Church.

Advisor, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Rome

Bartholomew proposed to hold it in Nicaea, in present-day Turkey. The ruins of the first ecumenical Synod are there. It is a significant event and preparations have already begun, initiatives are underway, speeches are being prepared.

Together, Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis have made multiple ecumenical gestures. In 2014, when Pope Francis visited the Holy Land to commemorate the meeting of his predecessors, the idea of a great event to celebrate Nicaea began to take shape.

Advisor, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Rome

To meet again to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the embrace of Athenagoras and Paul VI right on the mountain where Christ ascended to heaven, the proposal arose to meet in 2025 to celebrate the 17 centuries of the first ecumenical synod. When I say ecumenical, I mean truly ecumenical.

Almost 5 years after the meeting in the Holy Land, Pope Francis welcomed Patriach Bartholomew in an audience. The Patriarch traveled to Rome to thank him for a special gift—the Pope had gifted him fragments of the remains of St. Peter, so they could be reunited with those of his brother Andrew, whom Bartholomew is the successor of, as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

While it is not yet clear what exactly the 2025 event will look like, both the Pope and the Patriarch will come together once again to promote unity through Christian churches around the world.


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