Father Alex Karloutsos, head priest at the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons in Southampton, traveled to Jerusalem Saturday for Pope Francis’s pilgrimage for unity in Christianity and peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Father Karloutsos planned the three-day long pilgrimage in the Old City of Jerusalem where Pope Francis met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It has been 50 years since Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras met to start a new relationship between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Father Karloutsos’s duties for the weekend included arranging arrivals and dinners for the religious leaders, as well as handling security and media relations surrounding the papal meeting. During the meeting, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew signed a joint declaration in support for the ministries of Christ.
The pilgrimage marks a major attempt by Christian religious leaders to unite branches of Christianity and restore the Christian population. Major world issues beyond Christianity, however, were also acknowledged by Pope Francis on this important trip.
Pope Francis became the first Pope to ever fly directly into the West Bank and Palestinian territory, putting himself in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Pope Francis urged the groups to reach a state of peace and ended the pilgrimage by praying at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, which divides the Israelis and Palestinians.
The pilgrimage has been regarded as a successful journey for peace and is largely due to the efforts of Southampton’s own Father Alex Karloutsos.