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His All-holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I received the first honorary doctorate in the Culture of Unity awarded honoris causa by the Sophia University Institute (IUS). The Institute is an academic center for education and research in which life and intellectual inquiry, different cultures and diverse disciplines, meet up in a context permeated by a strong relational dimension. Sophia Institute is an expression of the Focolare Movement (Work of Mary), developed through the inspiration of its founder, Chiara Lubich, and an international advisory group of scholars from different disciplines.

On Monday, Pope Francis sent a message on the occasion of the conferral of the honorary doctorate, which was granted to His All-holiness “for his service to the unity of the human family.”

In his message, the Pope said, “I am pleased with this award which, besides being a rightful recognition of his commitment to the promotion of the culture of unity, contributes favourably to the common journey of our churches towards full and visible unity, to which we tend with dedication and perseverance.”

 

The complete communique from the Pope on this occasion can be found below.

His Eminence Cardinal Giuseppe Betori
Archbishop of Florence
Grand Chancellor of the Sophia University Institute
Via San Vito, 28, Loppiano
50064 Figline Valdarno


On the occasion of the Conferral of the Honorary Doctorate in the Culture of Unity to His Holiness Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, by the Sophia University Institute, I wish to assure you of my spiritual closeness and send my warmest greetings to all those present.

I send special greetings to my beloved brother Bartholomew, with whom I renew sentiments of profound and heartfelt appreciation. I am pleased with this award which, besides being a rightful recognition of his commitment to the promotion of the culture of unity, contributes favourably to the common journey of our churches towards full and visible unity, to which we tend with dedication and perseverance.

I wish that the Sophia University institute, following the charism of the Focolare Movement and remaining open to the action of the Spirit, may continue to be a place of encounter and dialogue between different cultures and religions.

With the assurance of my prayers and, asking you to pray for me, I impart my blessing to all those present.

Pope Francis