Pope: an “ecumenism of suffering” shared by Coptic Orthodox and Catholics in Egypt

May 11, 2013 by  
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Francis meets Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, welcoming the establishment of the National Council of Christian Churches “it is an important symbol of the will of all believers in Christ in everyday life to develop more and more fraternal relations and to place themselves in service of the entire Egyptian society of which they are an integral part. “

Pope FrancisVatican City, May 10, 2013: It can be said that there is an “ecumenism of suffering” because “the sharing of daily suffering can become effective instrument of unity” among Christians and, in a way, “also in the broader context of society and the relationship between Christians and non-Christians from the common suffering, can in fact grow, with the help of God, forgiveness and reconciliation”. There is a clear reference to the situation of Christians in Egypt in Pope Francis’ greeting this morning to Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, who was received in audience.

In his speech Pope Francis highlighted how relations with the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Catholics have grown and improved emphasizing the importance of creating a National Council of Christian Churches in Egypt . “The institution of a “National Council of Christian Churches”, which you strongly desired, represents an important sign of the will of all believers in Christ to develop relations in daily life that are increasingly fraternal and to put themselves at the service of the whole of Egyptian society, of which they form an integral part. Let me assure you that your efforts to build communion among believers in Christ, and your lively interest in the future of your country and the role of the Christian communities within Egyptian society find a deep echo in the heart of the Successor of Peter and of the entire Catholic community”.

“Today’s visit – he said – strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark, heir to an inestimable heritage of martyrs, theologians, holy monks and faithful disciples of Christ, who have borne witness to the Gospel from generation to generation, often in situations of great adversity”.

“Forty years ago the Common Declaration of our predecessors represented a milestone on the ecumenical journey, and from it emerged a Commission for Theological Dialogue between our Churches, which has yielded good results and has prepared the ground for a broader dialogue between the Catholic Church and the entire family of Oriental Orthodox Churches, a dialogue that continues to bear fruit to this day. In that solemn Declaration, our Churches acknowledged that, in line with the apostolic traditions, they profess “one faith in the One Triune God” and “the divinity of the Only-begotten Son of God … perfect God with respect to his divinity, perfect man with respect to his humanity”. They acknowledged that divine life is given to us and nourished through the seven sacraments and they recognized a mutual bond in their common devotion to the Mother of God”.

“We are glad to be able to confirm today what our illustrious predecessors solemnly declared, we are glad to recognize that we are united by one Baptism, of which our common prayer is a special expression, and we long for the day when, in fulfilment of the Lord’s desire, we will be able to communicate from the one chalice”.

Tawadros II and Francis discuss Egypt’s plight

In his first trip abroad, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church meets the pope, invites him to visit Egypt. Interfaith dialogue and relations between Catholics and Orthodox are among the issues the two leaders discussed.

Tawadros II and Pope FrancisRome, May 10, 2013: During his visit to Pope Francis, Tawadros II, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, talked about the situation in Egypt, interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Christians and the relationship between Catholics and Orthodox. The patriarch also called on Francis Pope to visit Egypt, which he described as the land where civilisation was born.

Fr Ragic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church and a member of the delegation, said that the visit was “a great example of friendship and cordiality between the heads of the two Churches.”

“Pope Francis,” he explained, “feels very close to the Christians of Egypt; the sufferings of the people affected by the economic crisis and continuing cases of violence and religious hatred are close to his heart.”

The Holy Father has not ruled out a future visit to this land, where Catholics are represented by Mgr Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, Catholic Coptic archbishop of Alexandria.

This is Tawadros II’s first trip outside of Egypt. By choosing to visit the Pope, he is emphasising the closeness between the two Christian denominations, Fr P. Greiche explained.

“The meeting,” he said, “was moving in other ways. After the meeting, Francis and the delegation prayed together in Coptic, Arabic and English.”

Tawadros II’s visit to the Vatican and Italy will last until 13 May. In the coming days, the patriarch will visit the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and other departments of the Roman Curia.

Tomorrow, he is scheduled to visit the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and on Sunday, he will meet members of Rome’s Orthodox Coptic community. (S.C.)

– asianews

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