On Friday, May 10, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the Patriarch of the See of St. Mark and the Church of Alexandria, concluded an historic meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis, the Patriarch of the See of St. Peter and the Church of Rome.
The two Popes discussed the ongoing ecumenical dialogue between the Coptic Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches on the 40th anniversary of a similarly historic visit to Pope Paul VI by Pope Shenouda III of thrice-blessed memory, a dialogue that “strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark”, Pope Francis said. The Pontiff also said he was “ convinced that – under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – our persevering prayer, our dialogue and the will to build communion day by day in mutual love will allow us to take important further steps towards full unity.” Pope Tawadros proposed that May 10 be dedicated every year to a celebration of love between the Coptic Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.
The Popes also discussed the growing violence against Christians in Egypt at the hands of the Muslim majority. Officially, Coptic Orthodox Christians comprise a 15% minority in Egypt, but unofficial numbers reveal a much higher percentage of Christians in Egypt. Along with the Coptic Orthodox delegation of metropolitans, bishops, and priests, Their Holinesses shared in a common prayer for persecuted Egyptian Christians. Pope Francis said, “Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity.”
The fathers also exchanged elaborate gifts in a token of fraternal love and understanding.