Orthodox patriarch leaves hospital, set to return to Turkey

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FILE – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew leads the official door-opening ceremony of lower Manhattan’s St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. The spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians was recovering in a New York hospital Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, a day after a medical procedure delayed his return home to Turkey at the end of a U.S. visit. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

The spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians was released from a New York hospital on Friday and was expected to fly home to Turkey on Sunday after the completion of a U.S. visit that was extended for a medical procedure.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople spent two nights in Mount Sinai Medical Center after having a stent installed to open up a clogged coronary artery.

Bartholomew, 81, had originally been scheduled to return home Wednesday at the end of a 12-day U.S. itinerary, his first visit to the country in several years.

He was previously hospitalized overnight in Washington on Oct. 24 soon after his arrival, when he reported feeling “unwell,” according to church officials. That episode prompted him to seek follow-up treatment in New York at the end of the trip.

On Thursday the physician who performed the procedure, Dr. George Dangas, said Bartholomew was recovering well. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America said the patriarch expected to return to his base in Istanbul on Sunday.

Bartholomew’s trip included a visit with President Joe Biden, meetings with Orthodox and other faith groups and a ceremonial blessing at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine near the World Trade Center, which is replacing a church that was destroyed on 9/11.

As patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew is considered first among equals among Eastern Orthodox patriarchs, which gives him prominence but not the power of a Catholic pope. He does oversee Greek Orthodox and some other jurisdictions, although large portions of the Eastern Orthodox world are self-governing under their own patriarchs.

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