Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of roughly 300 million Orthodox Christians, is due to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House on Oct. 23 amid growing congressional scrutiny of religious freedom for minority groups in Turkey, Al-Monitor has learned.
Sources speaking on condition of strict anonymity told Al-Monitor that the patriarch, a Turkish citizen, would be having breakfast with Turkey’s new ambassador to Washington, Murat Mercan, during his visit to Washington. This suggests that Ankara — probably at Mercan’s urging — has opted to not have a hissy fit over the fact that the 81-year-old patriarch has been invited to the White House ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mercan will not be present at the audience, the sources said. The Greek Archdiocese of America did not respond to Al-Monitor’s request for comment.