The Vatican has 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.
Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, made the announcement to reporters, noting that a formal invitation from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had arrived at the Vatican earlier today.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, considered first among equals among Orthodox bishops, had already invited Pope Francis to visit Istanbul on November 30, feast of St Andrew, patron saint of Constantinople.
As things now stand, the trip will be Pope Francis’s sixth outside of Italy since his election in March 2013. He will visit Albania on September 21 and address the European Parliament in Strasbourg on November 25.
Pope Francis will be the third pope to visit Turkey, after St John Paul II in 1979 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.