Bartholomew I of Constantinople has been hospitalised in Washington D.C. after arriving in the U.S. capital on Saturday for a 12-day visit.
The patriarch’s visit includes a meeting with President Joe Biden.
He was due to attend a church service in Washington but felt unwell after the long flight and his busy schedule.
The 81-year-old was taken to the George Washington University Hospital, where he was advised to rest and is being kept under observation.
Graciousness travels fast in our world. Grateful to our @POTUS on availing services of his personal physician to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW. Having past-served with the late Brig Gen John Hutton, Pres Reagan's physician, deeply appreciate peerless offer.
— Constantine Mourtos (@dinohealth) October 24, 2021
The patriarch is considered first among equals in the Eastern Orthodox hierarchy, which gives him prominence but not the power of a Catholic pope.
Making the latest of several trips to the country during his 30 years in office, Bartholomew is expected to address concerns ranging from a pending restructuring of the American church to his church’s status in his homeland, Turkey.
Bartholomew is scheduled to receive an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame on Thursday in an event highlighting efforts to improve Orthodox-Catholic ties, centuries after the two churches broke decisively in 1054 amid disputes over theology and papal claims of supremacy.
Just as his influence is limited in Turkey, it is also limited in the Eastern Orthodox communion, rooted in Eastern Europe and the Middle East with a worldwide diaspora. Large portions of the communion are in national churches that are independently governed, with the ecumenical patriarch having only symbolic prominence, though he does directly oversee Greek Orthodox and some other jurisdictions.