Franciscan Order offers use of Catholic church in Izmir to Ecumenical Patriarchate

Franciscan church of Santa Maria

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received on Thursday the head of the Franciscan Order Massimo Fusarelli, to sign an agreement for the use of the Franciscan church of Santa Maria by the Orthodox Christians in the major Turkish city of Izmir (Smyrna), ANA reports.

The action is "a fraternal gesture requested by Pope Francis as a sign of a common journey." The decision was signed on Catholic Holy Thursday, "a special date for this gesture of communion," a statement on the Order's site said.

The Ecumenical Patriarch conveyed his appreciation of Pope Francis' response to a request for the use of the 17th-century church. The current church used by the Orthodox in Izmir is dedicated to Saint Fotini but is too small for the community.