AFRICA/EGYPT - Love in Christ, study, dialogue, prayer: the "four steps" of Pope Tawadros is to rediscover unity among divided Christians

Thursday, 4 May 2023 oriental churches   ecumenicalism   theology   pope francis   easter  

Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - Dialogue between the Churches and their path to rediscover full communion can only be founded and modeled on the cross of Christ. This was reiterated by Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II, on the eve of his three-day visit to Rome, scheduled from 10 to 12 May. During his visit to the Vatican, scheduled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of theological dialogue between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Church of Rome, Tawadros will have the opportunity to meet and talk with Pope Francis. Before leaving for the Eternal City, the Primate of the Coptic Orthodox Church wanted to indicate in a brief filmed speech – disseminated through the official channels of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate - what are, in his opinion, the "four steps" that must be be given as the basis of relations between Christian denominations in order to restore full unity among the baptized.
The "first step" mentioned by Pope Tawadros is to recognize that the union between Christians of different denominations can only have its sources and flourish in the common "love in Christ". The Patriarch defines it "union in love", which can only be experienced by following the teachings and footsteps of Jesus. He also emphasizes that after centuries of division, it takes time to find the way to full unity and for trust and sincere desire to be reborn in hearts.
The "second step" indicated by Patriarch Tawadros is the study of the doctrine, geography, history and traditions of the different Churches.
The "third step" is that of dialogue, which draws light and effectiveness from the previous two steps. "During the dialogue" - exemplifies Pope Tawadros - we can ask the other person: 'explain to me, what exactly do you mean with these formulas and words of yours?'. In this way, we can recognize that we share the same faith, but language does not help. And this is a problem that we have been suffering from since the ill-fated Council of Chalcedon".
After that Council - the Patriarch recalled - divisions began to tear Christians apart also due to misunderstandings around theological terminology. "We were accused of monophysitism (doctrine that overshadows the human nature of Christ, ed), a term that does not represent us at all".
The fourth step suggested by Pope Tawadros is that of prayer: when we take these four steps", concluded the Orthodox Patriarch, "we reach the heart of Christ, walking hand in hand. These are the criteria that guide us in our relations with all the Churches in the world".
May 10 also falls on the "day of brotherly love between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Church of Rome", which is celebrated every year on the anniversary of Patriarch Tawadros's trip to Rome in 2013 to meet Pope Francis himself for the first time.
Among the Heads of the Eastern Churches, Pope Tawadros has been the most decisive in firmly supporting the search for a common date for the liturgical solemnities of Easter, currently celebrated on different days by the various Churches and communities of the baptized (see Fides, 20/5/2019). The request to unify the date of celebration of Easter - as Fides reported at the time - had already been expressed by the Coptic Patriarch in a letter sent to Pope Francis in May 2014, on the occasion of the first anniversary of their meeting in the Vatican. Tawadros, head of the numerically largest Christian Church in the Arab countries, had also returned to the issue in November 2014, speaking in Vienna at the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Pro-Oriente Foundation. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 4/5/2023)