Rorate Caeli

Never before seen - Francis bows his head and asks Separated Patriarch: "Bless me and the Church of Rome"

From Zenit:

Istanbul, November 29, 2014. ... Filled of "gratitude and eagerly waiting", [the Pope] concludes [his address] by wishing Bartholomew and the Church of Constantinople the "fraternal" wishes for the feast of the patron saint to be celebrated tomorrow. In return he asked - unexpectedly - for a favor: "Bless me and the Catholic Church", bowing his head, waiting for the 'brother' to lay hands on him. And Bartholomew, without hesitation, gives him a kiss on the head affectionately. [Italian]

Listening to the original video (also available at KTO), the pope actually said, "...a benedire me e la Chiesa di Roma" (" bless me and the Church of Rome.")

As the video above makes clear (beginning on 31:50), the Patriarch himself was so stunned he "hesitated" (word used by the I-Media correspondent present at the ceremony) and did not give any blessing before kissing the Pope.


Some will object that this isn't really new; after all, Francis had also asked for (and received) the blessing of Justin Welby, the main Anglican leader, during their meeting on June 16 this year. And Welby does not even have apostolic succession -- unlike Patriarch Bartholomew, who actually is a bishop. 

There is, of course, one big difference: the meeting between Pope Francis and Welby was private, while the one with Patriarch Bartholomew took place in public. And never before has a reigning Pope publicly asked for the blessing of a non-Catholic religious leader upon himself and the Church of Rome. 

(The 1975 incident where Paul VI publicly kissed the feet of the Greek Orthodox bishop Metropolitan Meliton of Chalcedon is also different, in that it was reciprocated -- the Orthodox bishop tried to kiss Paul VI's feet in return but had to settle for kissing his hand -- and all accounts of it do not mention any requests from the Pope for a blessing.)