Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew tests positive for COVID-19

ISTANBUL (AP) — Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is displaying mild symptoms, the Istanbul-based Patriarchate said Friday.

A Patriarchate statement said that “his general condition is good.”

Bartholomew, who is 81 and recently had heart surgery, is fully vaccinated and on Friday once again urged the faithful to get their shots and follow the recommendations of doctors, the statement said.

It also conveyed his Christmas wishes to all.

In late October Bartholomew was hospitalized overnight in the United States and later had a stent installed to open up a clogged coronary artery.

Bartholomew is considered first among equals among Eastern Orthodox patriarchs, which gives him prominence but not the power of a Catholic pope.

Large portions of the Eastern Orthodox world are self-governing under their own patriarchs.

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