Ecumenical patriarch resumes U.S. apostolic visit after brief hospital stay

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople was released early Oct. 25 from George Washington University Hospital where he stayed overnight on medical advice.

He immediately resumed his 12-day apostolic visit to the United States.

On the advice of doctors, the 81-year-old church leader was admitted to the hospital Oct. 24 before a scheduled service at the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Washington. He had arrived in the U.S. a day earlier to begin his visit.

But the patriarch “felt unwell due to the long flight and schedule of events upon arrival,” said a statement from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. “His doctor, out of an abundance of precaution, advised that he be taken to George Washington University Hospital for observation.”

Daytime events on his schedule for Oct. 25 included a visit with President Joe Biden at the White House; a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department; and a visit to the Turkish Embassy at the invitation of Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Hasan Murat Mercan.

Patriarch Bartholomew also was to deliver a speech for the Museum of the Bible via videoconference; one of the museum’s permanent exhibitions is on Orthodox Christian cultural heritage.

Later, he was to attend a dinner at Georgetown University hosted by John J. DeGioia, university president, and Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington.

The patriarch also was scheduled to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Capitol Hill Oct. 26, following a reception at the United Methodist Building hosted by the National Council of Churches.

His itinerary included a variety of events in Pittsburgh; at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana; and New York City.

On Nov. 2, he is to preside at the “thyranoixia,” or “opening of doors,” ceremony at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, which has been under construction for several years and is due to be completed next year.

The structure is being built on the site of the parish church that was destroyed on 9/11 during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. St. Nicholas Church was among many buildings destroyed or damaged by debris from the collapse of the trade center’s twin towers.

The new church and shrine — which AP reported has faced many “bureaucratic tangles and financial woes” over the years — also will honor those who lost their lives on 9/11.

In addition, Patriarch Bartholomew planned to mark the 30th anniversary of his election with a celebration and dinner hosted by the Friends of St. Nicholas.

At the Vatican Oct. 22, Pope Francis commemorated his election anniversary by thanking God for the “fraternal friendship” the two church leaders share.

In a message to the patriarch, the pope said he was grateful for their “profound personal bond from the time of the inauguration of my papal ministry, when you honored me with your presence in Rome.”

“I join you in thanksgiving to the Lord for the many blessings bestowed upon your life and ministry over these years, and pray that God, from whom all gifts come, will grant you health, spiritual joy and abundant grace to sustain every aspect of your lofty service,” the pontiff said.

Since his election in 1991, Patriarch Bartholomew has shared a close relationship with the Roman pontiffs, especially with Pope Francis.

A farewell ceremony for the patriarch ending his apostolic visit is scheduled for Nov. 3 at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.

Original Article