VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis said he truly hopes to celebrate the 1,700th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in Turkey in 2025.

“It is my hope that the commemoration of this highly significant event will inspire all believers in Christ the Lord to testify together to their faith and their desire for greater communion,” he told a delegation of Orthodox leaders during a meeting at the Vatican June 28.

Pope Francis meets with Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon during a private meeting with a delegation representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople at the Vatican on June 28, 2024. The delegation was in Rome to celebrate the June 29 feast of Sts. Peter and Paul at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The delegation representing the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was in Rome for the June 29 feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

The pope thanked the group for Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s invitation to celebrate the anniversary “near the place where the council met. It is a trip that I truly wish to make.”

Pope Francis, likewise, invited the delegation and the faithful they represent to come to Rome for the Holy Year 2025. He asked them to accompany and support “with your prayers this year of grace, so that abundant spiritual fruits may not be lacking. It would also be very nice to have you present.”

“Dialogue between our churches poses no risk to the integrity of the faith; rather, it is a necessity arising from our fidelity to the Lord and leading us to the whole truth through an exchange of gifts and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

He encouraged the work of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, “which has embarked on the study of delicate historical and theological issues.”

“It is my hope that the pastors and theologians engaged in this process will go beyond purely academic disputes and listen with docility to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the life of the church. And, at the same time, that what has already been studied and agreed upon will find full reception in our communities and places of formation,” he said.

“There will always and everywhere be resistance to this, but we must move forward with courage,” the pope added.

The council, which began meeting in May 325, gave birth to the Nicene Creed, affirmed the full divinity of Christ and set a formula for determining the date of Easter. The city of Nicaea is known today as Iznik.