Five years on papacy of Pope Tawadros II, 5th seminar of Holy Synod
The closure of the 5th annual seminar of the Coptic Church’s Holy Synod on 17 November 2017 coincided with the 5th anniversary of Pope Tawadros II as patriarch; he was enthroned 0n 18 November 2012.
In the closing session of the three-day seminar which was held at the Logos Centre in the Western Desert monastery of Anba Bishoi, Pope Tawadros gave a word to the bishops who attended; there were 105 of them from among the 127 synod members. He spoke of a bishop’s ministry as being based on three qualities: fatherliness, love, and grace. Any fair observer who heard the Pope, however, realised that the words embodied him in person, his perception and the attitude he adopted since he became Pope.
“Fatherliness is what has preserved the Church throughout the ages; it is no exaggeration to say that the Church is alive through the virtue of fatherliness,” Pope Tawadros said. “The quality of fatherliness is a precious treasure in the full sense of the word.”
“A bishop,” he said, “is a leader through fatherliness, a role model through love, “and a firm decision maker through the grace bestowed upon him by the Lord.”
A bishop’s ministry, the Pope said, is not in service projects or buildings but in gentle, tender, tolerant fatherliness that openly accepts and embraces all.
“Love makes you powerful,” Pope Tawadros said. “Your power emanates not from your ideas or your contacts or your good relations with those in authority. It stems from strong, constant love. Jesus while on the Cross, in the throes of his agony, asked the Father to forgive those who crucified Him; and took care of His mother and His disciple John. He was powerful in His boundless love. His most significant, repeated commandment to His disciples was to love one another.
“Everyone who deals with you, be it clergy or congregation or anyone outside the Church, should sense your love. You won’t persuade anyone to do anything except through love.”
A bishop must be a role model, the Pope said. “You are a role model through the grace of God,” he said. “We are all basically monks. We have taken vows or self-imposed poverty, obedience, celibacy. We must realise that people look up to us; we must live up to the principles we adopted and project an image of what we really are.”
Less than a week before, during the consecration ceremony of five new bishops in the Coptic Church, the Pope had spoken of the responsibility of a bishop, describing it as a heavy burden that is borne with faith. “It is a great responsibility,” he said, “since the Lord will take us to account for every soul among the flock; ‘Be faithful unto death,’ He says”. In case anyone thinks new bishops have taken a ‘promotion’, the Pope reminded everyone that ‘promotion’ in the Church indicated an advance in humbleness, in the ministry of ‘washing feet’. “A minister can never serve faithfully except by humbleness,” the Pope said.
Coptic Church relations with other Churches
Pope Tawadros thanked all the Holy Synod members who participated in the fifth seminar, putting in a special word of thanks for Anba Thomas, Bishop of Qoussiya, for managing the event. He praised the research papers presented at the seminar, saying they represent faithful efforts at deeper knowledge and better understanding of numerous relevant issues. Some warranted further research, he said.
The topic of the seminar was: “The Coptic Orthodox Church and its relations with other Churches”. Among the papers presented was “The Concept of the One Church” by Bishop Suriel of Melbourne; “The Culture of globalisation and how it influences the concept of [Church] unity” by Bishop Daniel of Sydny; “Between non-sectarianism and the ecumenical movement” by Metropolitan Serapion of Los Angeles, and Anba Moussa, Bishop of Youth; and “Between acceptance and rejection of baptism by other Churches” by Metropolitan Bishoi of Dumyat, Bishop Benyamin of Menoufiya, Bishop Danial of Maadi, Bishop Aghathon of Maghagha, Bishop-General Michael in US, and Bishop Epiphanius abbot of St Macarius Monastery.
The seminar discussed various topics including the predicament of the Coptic Orthodox monastery of Deir as-Sultan in Jerusalem; a summary of ecumenical relations and dialogue in recent history; and the achievement of the project of training 1000 lead cantors in churches.
On Friday 17 November, the final day of the seminar, Pope Tawadros officiated Holy Mass at the church of the Transfiguration at logos Centre.
19 November 2017