ROME — Pope Francis commemorated the 30th anniversary of the election of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople by thanking God for the “fraternal friendship” they share.

In a Oct. 22 message to the patriarch, the pope said he was grateful for their “profound personal bond from the time of the inauguration of my papal ministry, when you honored me with your presence in Rome.”

“I join you in thanksgiving to the Lord for the many blessings bestowed upon your life and ministry over these years, and pray that God, from whom all gifts come, will grant you health, spiritual joy and abundant grace to sustain every aspect of your lofty service,” he said.

Since his election in 1991, Patriarch Bartholomew has shared a close relationship with the Roman pontiffs, especially with Pope Francis. The pope and patriarch have collaborated particularly in calling attention to the need to assist migrants and refugees and to mitigate climate change and protect the environment.

“I assure you of my appreciation for your commitment to safeguarding creation and for your reflection on this issue, from which I have learned and continue to learn much,” the pope wrote. “With the outbreak of the pandemic and the ensuing grave health, social and economic repercussions, your testimony and teaching on the need for the spiritual conversion of humanity have acquired enduring relevance.”

Pope Francis also thanked Patriarch Bartholomew for “ceaselessly indicating the way of dialogue” and fostering reconciliation between the Catholic and Orthodox churches in the hopes of reestablishing full communion.

“With God’s help, this is the path along which we will most certainly continue to walk together, for the closeness and solidarity between our churches are an indispensable contribution to universal brotherhood and social justice, of which humanity is so urgently in need,” the pope said.