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Introduction by Two Popes: On the Sign of Ecumenism

Introduction by Two Popes: On the Sign of Ecumenism

As the Catholic and Coptic Churches continue their journey toward full communion, it is always important to look ahead. This is what Pope Francis and Coptic Pope Tawadros II wrote in a joint introduction to a memorial book published by the Directorate for the Promotion of Christian Unity on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI. And Pope Shenouda III. We will issue.

Mario Galgano – Vatican City

Pope Francis has already written a number of prefaces to books, but with another “pope” – in this case the head of the Coptic Church – it’s a novelty. The work – as the title says – revolves around “The Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church. The fiftieth anniversary of the meeting of Pope Paul VI. and Pope Shenouda III. (1973-2023)”. The book will be released on May 10, 2023.

To listen – in memory of the meeting of Paul VI. and Shenouda III.

In it, Pope Francis and Tewodros II wrote: “In the ecumenical journey it is sometimes necessary to look back. When we tend to become discouraged, we need to restore hope by drawing on the inspiration and enthusiasm of the pioneers of unity who preceded us. We must also thank God by remembering the steps taken already taken and the mileage already traveled, which is often much more important than we can imagine.”

milestone in relationships

This is exactly the goal of this book. In memory of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI. And Pope Shenouda III. From May 9 to 13, 1973 in this book with the most important documents of the recent rapprochement between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church. Francis and Tawdros assert that “the meeting of our ancestors of blessed memory in Rome was a milestone in the relations between our churches and a fruit of the growing rapprochement that began during the Second Vatican Council.” This was the first meeting between the Bishop of Rome and the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church since the Council of Chalcedon, and marked the end of the Christological controversy that arose around the same Council, thanks to the seminal signature. Joint Christology Declaration On May 10, 1973.

The Coptic Church in Cairo

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Then this meeting brought other fruits on the ecumenical path of the two Churches. This led to the creation of the International Joint Commission between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church, which was launched in 1979 by Pope John Paul II and Pope Shenouda III. Principles for the search for unity between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church were signed, as Francis and Tawadros wrote in the introduction. This commission, in turn, paved the way for the establishment in 2003 of the Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the entire family of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, a dialogue that has already produced important documents attesting to the growing understanding between our Churches.

to believe the world

“In our first meeting in Rome, held on May 10, 2013, to commemorate the 1973 meeting, we designated May 10 as the ‘Day of Friendship between Copts and Catholics’, which our churches have celebrated annually since then.” Reminder in the introduction to the memorial book. “As you can see, the encounters between our illustrious ancestors continue to bear fruit. May the memory of this event and those that follow continue to inspire our ecumenical journey and answer Christ’s prayer “that they may all be one” (John 17:21)! May the brotherly love and friendship that unite our Churches continue to grow until That blessed and awaited day when we can celebrate together at the same altar and receive the same cup, “in which the world may believe!”

Shenouda III.  and Paul VI.

Shenouda III. and Paul VI.

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Exactly fifty years ago, the leaders of the Coptic Orthodox and Catholic Churches signed a landmark Christological agreement that ended a 1,500-year-old theological debate and ushered in a new era in Coptic-Catholic relations. And to mark the occasion, Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, will be in Rome this week. He will address a Catholic pope’s general audience on Wednesday – the first time the head of another church has done so – and pray privately with him on Thursday. On Sunday, he will preside over Mass in the Lateran Basilica, the pope’s official cathedral.

At his side throughout the week was Archbishop Angelos, the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of London. Speaking to Vatican Radio about the upcoming visit, he stressed that the first meeting of the two popes in 1973 was “crucial” for the ecumenical movement. Bishop Angelos also describes the “great love and respect” among the current leaders in the Coptic Orthodox and Catholic Churches:

“It was not only to establish a groundbreaking relationship, but also to come to an agreement on Christology…”

Of course the 1973 meeting was a historic one. We take our ecumenical relationships between many churches for granted today, forgetting that the world was very different 50 or 60 years ago. There were not many ecumenical relationships. It was a groundbreaking work not only to establish a relationship but also to come to an agreement on Christology, and that has been key to much of the ecumenical work being done to this day.”

A true blessing

Regarding the significance of this new visit, the Coptic Orthodox bishop says:

“Sometimes we try to agree on just the bare minimum…”

This visit coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the first Christological Covenant between the late Pope Shenouda III. and the late Pope Paul VI. instead of. I was fortunate to be with His Holiness Pope Tawadros ten years ago in 2013 as we celebrated our fortieth anniversary. festive anniversary. So it is a real blessing to be with His Holiness again this time in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary. Being able to celebrate anniversaries is a real blessing. And it’s an opportunity to see all of this develop in a very positive way.

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Sometimes we just try to agree on the essentials – we can do that and we do it together on site and in pastoral care. But to agree on the nature of Christ and to say that we as churches, as the ancient churches of Rome and Alexandria, agree on the model of Christology in the Word made flesh, which is a complete human and divine model, and this is the key to a great model. A part of theological understanding that is still being worked out today.”

He believes this will lead to better cooperation and better understanding. Archbishop Angelos doesn’t think anything will be as far off as the signing of another Christological covenant. But he also believes it is important for Catholics and Copts to continue their relations.

(Vatican News)