A historic visit takes place this week in Rome between Pope Francis and the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II on 10 and 11 May.
The date of the visit of Pope Tawadros coincides with that of the visit made by the late Pope Shenouda III 40 years ago to Rome, during which he met Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in May 1973. “The upcoming visit of the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church to the Apostolic See of Rome and its Bishop,” the spokesman for the Vatican in Cairo, the Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said, “represents a very important event from an ecumenical point of view.”
Accompanying Pope Tawadros will be Anba Pachomeus, Bishop of Beheira; Anba Hedra, Bishop of Aswan; Anba Raphail, secretary-general of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod; the papal secretary Fr Angaelus Ishaq, and Fr Seraphim al-Suriani, the papal secretary for the affairs of the Coptic Diaspora.
In the footsteps of Pope Shenouda
In May 1973, Pope Shenouda was the first Coptic Orthodox patriarch to visit the Vatican in over 1,500 years. Back then, Pope Shenouda and Pope Paul VI signed a common declaration on Christology and agreed to establish joint commissions for ecumenical dialogue.
Pope Tawadros, who was enthroned last November, said that he had wished to participate in person in the enthronement of Pope Francis, but the conditions were not then right. “When the new ambassador to the Vatican in Cairo, the Apostolic Nuncio Van Paul Goupil, paid me his first visit last April, I told him I would care to visit Pope Francis and offer him my good wishes. I said it would be auspicious if that visit could be arranged to commemorate Pope Shenouda’s visit which had taken place from 4 May to 10 May back in 1973. Even though he replied that the time might be too short to prepare for such a visit, he pleasantly surprised me three days later by informing me that I would be received in Rome on 10 May.”
The upcoming visit, according to Pope Tawadros, aims at strengthening fraternal cooperation between the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Catholic Church in Rome.
Watani’s Michael Victor will be among the few media persons from Egypt who will be allowed to cover the visit live. These are Fr Rafik Greiche, the media representative of the Catholic Churches in Egypt; the CTV (Coptic TV) team; and Watani.
8 May 2013