Vatican confirms papal trip to Turkey at end of November; Christian-Muslim ties lead agenda

The Vatican says Pope Francis will travel to Turkey at the end of November.

The trip, confirmed Friday by the Rev. Federico Lombardi, had been rumored for weeks but only became official after the Vatican received an invitation from the Turkish president Friday morning.

Francis is expected to mark an important Orthodox feast day Nov. 30 with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians. But perhaps more importantly, the visit will give Francis the chance to visit a Muslim nation at a time when Christians are being targeted by Islamic militants in Iraq.

Lombardi said the dates and itinerary haven't been finalized.

Francis had said he had wanted to visit Kurdistan to show solidarity with Christians forced to flee by the Islamic State group.