ISTANBUL, Nov 30 : Pope Francis on Sunday issued a strong pledge of support for the embattled Christians of the Middle East and urged an end to the millenium-old schism between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, as he wrapped up his first visit to Turkey.
The trip of the pope to Istanbul -- once the capital of the Christian Byzantine world and formerly known as Constantinople -- has been marked by attempts to reach out both to Muslims and other Christian confessions.
The pope Sunday attended a divine liturgy led by Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the latest sign of the warming
ties between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches under his papacy.
Bartholomew, the "first among equals" of an estimated 300 million Orthodox believers, made a joint pledge with the leader of the world's Roman Catholics to support Christians in the Middle East, saying they could not let Christianity be driven out of the region.
"We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years," the Church leaders said. ?AFP