UPDATE 6/3/14: Vatican spokesman Rev. Thomas Rosica said in a statement that the event has not been confirmed, and it is "very early to jump to conclusions," according to Religion News Service.
Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Barthlomew I prayed together in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in a beautiful act of unity.
Now, they're taking a further step to heal the centuries-old schism between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches by holding a gathering together to commemorate the Council of Nicaea, which took place in 325. Seventeen centuries later, Francis and Bartholomew will come together in 2025 to celebrate the historic meeting, reports Vatican Insider.
"We agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering in Nicaea in 2025, to celebrate together, after 17 centuries, the first truly ecumenical synod, where the Creed was first promulgated," Bartholomew told Asia News.
Nicaea, now known as Iznik, brought together over 300 bishops from the Eastern and Western traditions in 325. While the next planned gathering is eleven years away, both leaders can use that time to continue to work towards friendship and cooperation between their churches.
R. Andrew Chesnut, a professor of Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, explained the newly announced meeting as one aimed not only at improving Roman Catholic-Orthodox relations but also at supporting Middle Eastern Christians.
"Both Francis and Bartholomew are not only motivated by the cause of ecumenism but also by forming a united front against the persecution of Christianity in the Middle East where the number of Catholics and Orthodox have dwindled over the past couple decades," said Chestnut.