Vatican 2014-09-12 -- Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan has issued an official invitation to Pope Francis to visit his country. Speaking to journalists on Friday, the head of the Vatican press office, Fr Federico Lombardi said the Holy See had received the invitation and was preparing for a papal visit to Turkey at the end of November. He added that the duration of the trip and the programme for the visit were still to be confirmed.

The Pope is expected to visit Istanbul on November 30th to celebrate the feast day of St Andrew, founder of the Eastern Church and patron saint of the Orthodox world. While a delegation from the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity goes regularly to Turkey for the annual celebration, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew 1st invited Pope Francis to attend the event in person this year. Pope Francis will be following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who visited the Turkish cities of Ankara, Ephesus and Istanbul in November 2006.