VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis is planning to visit Turkey “in the last days of November,” but said the length of his trip and his agenda in the country have yet to be determined.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, made the announcement to reporters Sept. 12, noting that a formal invitation from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had arrived at the Vatican earlier the same day.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, considered first among equals among Orthodox bishops, had already invited Pope Francis to visit Istanbul Nov. 30, feast of St. Andrew, patron saint of Constantinople.
As things now stand, the trip will be Pope Francis’ sixth outside of Italy since his election in March 2013. He will visit Albania Sept. 21 and address the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Nov. 25.
Pope Francis will be the fourth pope to visit Turkey, after Pope Paul VI in 1967, St. John Paul II in 1979 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.