The aim: Church unity
Pope Tawadros II has been in Vienna since last Thursday to take part in the golden jubilee celebration of the Pro Oriente foundation which was founded in 1964 by Cardinal Franz Koenig. Pro Oriente had extended its invitation to Pope Twadros to join in the jubilee celebration back in 2013. The purpose of the foundation is to build stronger dialogue and relations between the Austrian Catholic Church and the Coptic, Syrian and Armenian Orthodox Churches.
Participating in the event were Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; Vatican president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Koch; the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Schönborn; Pro Oriente president Johann Marthe and representatives of the Syrian and Armenian Orthodox Churches.
The celebrations started with prayers in Freyung Monastery in Vienna, followed by recitals by choirs belonging to the Churches participating in the event. The Coptic choir gave a performance of the hymn ‘Praise the Lord’ in German.
The participants then moved to Vienna University where Marthe, Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Tawadros each gave a speech. For his part, Pope Tawadros stressed that unity between churches begins with love and is nurtured through theological dialogue and collaboration in fields such as education, monasticism, and social development. It is crowned with prayer. Pope Tawadros said he hoped all the Churches worldwide would agree on a unified date for Easter, which he hopes will be achieved soon.
This year’s meeting of Pro Oriente focused on the foundation’s role in enhancing rapprochement between different Churches. It discussed the means through which Pro Oriente can sustain the charitable and pastoral work offered by Churches, especially when it comes to relief for the displaced and refugees in Syria and Iraq.
Today, Sunday 9 November, Pope Tawadros went to Klagenfurt in the south of Austria where he consecrated a Coptic Orthodox church there in the name of the Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am. He presided over Holy Mass there, together with Anba Gabriel the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Austria.
The Pope had taken the opportunity of his visit to Austria to extend pastoral care to the Coptic Orthodox congregation there. Other than consecrating the church of the Holy Virgin and Anba Abra’am, he presided over a wedding ceremony and the baptism of 10 children at the St Antonius monastery at Obersiebenbrunn, also on the ceremony whereby the monk Theodore Anba Antonius took orders.
Austria’s President Hans Fischer held a luncheon at the Hofburg in Vienna in honour of the Pro Oriente jubilee participants. Pope Tawadros presented President Fischer with a gift of a pharaonic style plate.
9 November 2014