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Pope Francis Gives Thanks For The Friendship Of The Coptic Orthodox Church With The Catholic Church

The Pope’s “thank you” for the friendship between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church: present at today’s General Audience is Tawadros II, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, who came to Rome at Pope Francis’ invitation to commemorate together the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between St Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III

Today’s General Audience was attended by Tawadros II, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, who came to Rome at the invitation of Pope Francis to commemorate together the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between St Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III.

It was in fact May 1973 when Paul VI met the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III.

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From that moment a dialogue, friendship and above all a common path began.

The two Popes signed a common Christological Declaration stating that the Catholic Church and the Coptic Church shared the ‘same faith in Jesus Christ’.

Today’s audience began with a greeting from the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, an address in Arabic to those present and to the Pope.

Tawadros II “appreciates all that the Pope has done during this time for the whole world and prays that Christ will keep him in good health”

“We have chosen love, even if we go against the tide of the greedy and selfish world; we have accepted the challenge of the love that Christ asks of us and we will be true Christians and the world will become more human, because the whole world will know that God is love and that this is his highest name,” Tawadros II says again.

“It is with great joy that I greet today His Holiness Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, and the illustrious delegation that accompanies him,” the Pope then said in his speech. “His Holiness Tawadros accepted my invitation to come to Rome to celebrate with me the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting of Pope St Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III in 1973.

This was the first meeting between a Bishop of Rome and a Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which culminated in the signing of a memorable joint Christological declaration on 10 May.

In memory of this event, His Holiness Tawadros came to see me for the first time on 10 May ten years ago, a few months after his and my election, and proposed to celebrate every 10 May the Day of Coptic-Catholic Friendship, which we have been celebrating every year since that time, we talk to each other on the phone, we say hello, we remain good brothers, we have not quarrelled.”

“Dear friend and brother Tawadros, I thank you for accepting my invitation on this double anniversary, and I pray that the light of the Holy Spirit will illuminate your visit to Rome, the important meetings you will have here, and in particular our personal conversations. I thank you sincerely for your commitment to the growing friendship between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church,” the Pope said in his greeting.

During today’s greeting, the Pope also recalls those who lost their lives on the Libyan beach, who were made martyrs a few years ago.

He was referring to the 21 Coptic martyrs killed on February 15, 2015 in Libya: “They are our saints, saints of all Christians, saints of all Christian confessions and traditions,” he had said only a year ago.

“I ask all present to pray to God to bless Pope Tawadros’ visit to Rome and to protect the entire Coptic Orthodox Church.

May this visit bring us closer to the blessed day when we will be one in Christ!”, concluded the Pope who immediately moved on to greetings in the various languages without the usual catechesis.

The meeting concludes by reciting the Our Father and the blessing together in St. Peter’s Square.

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