“The Church knows no geographical boundaries; we look after Copts anywhere and everywhere in the world,” Pope Tawadros II said as he landed at Japan’s Osaka Airport on 26 August 2017, on a first time visit to the country. “Opening an Egyptian church in Japan is proof that love and religion don’t know nationalities or borders. The Coptic Church offers love everywhere and opens its arms to all people, no matter their colour, race or nationality.”
“We have learned a lot from Japan,” the Pope said, describing Japanese people as active and diligent, with a great history and civilisation. “The Japanese became one of the greatest nations in the world, despite what they suffered in WWII,” he added, praising the role of new Japanese schools in Egypt.
Pope Tawadros II began his visit to Japan on Saturday 26 August. His prime task was to consecrate the first Coptic church in Japan. He stayed in Japan till 29 August then left to Australia for a visit of intensive pastoral duties in Sydney and Melbourne. He is expected back in Cairo on 13 September.
On his way to Japan, Pope Tawadros made a transit stop in Dubai where he was met by Egyptian Consul in Dubai Tareq Abdel-Hamid, commercial attaché Younan Edward, as well as Fr Mina Hanna who heads the clergy of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Dubai.
Consecrates first church in Japan
Sunday morning, the Pope consecrated the church of the Holy Virgin and St Mark in Kizugawa-shi in Kyoto, to be the first Coptic Orthodox cathedral in Japan. Taking part in the consecration Mass were Anba Serapion, Metropolitan of Los Angeles; Anba Danial, Bishop of Maadi; Anba Daniel, Bishop of Sydney; and Anba Hermina Bishop-General of churches of Ain Shams and Mattariya, as well as a number of priests. The Egyptian Ambassador to Tokyo, Ismail Khayrat, attended.
Japan as a Coptic Orthodox parish is affiliated to the Bishopric of Sydney.
…and ordains three deacons
During Mass, Pope Tawadros also ordained three deacons to help with the service in the new church. The newly ordained deacons were given the names: Tawadros, Marcos, and Athanasius.
In Sydney … then Melbourne
Pope Tawadros started his Sydney visit on 30 August; he was warmly welcomed by Bishop Daniel of Sydney. He led Thanksgiving Prayers at St Mary and St Mina cathedral in Bexley. The following day he laid the foundation stone of St Mary, St Cosman, and St Demian church in Kellyville, and followed by Holy Mass at St Mercurius church in Rhodes.
The Pope was expected to meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
As Watani went to press, the Pope was scheduled to bless new projects, including a youth centre, and meet the Coptic congregation in Sydney. The highlight of the visit was an expected meeting with Coptic youth at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.
On 6 September, Pope Tawadros should leave to Melbourne where another Coptic congregation excitedly expects him. Bishop Suriel of Melbourne said he was overjoyed at the prospect of the historic first pastoral visit of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II to Australia. The Pope will officially open the Eporo Tower on Sunday 10 September. “We pray that this holy visit will be a source of blessing and joy for our diocese and all of Australia,” Bishop Suriel said.
On Australian news site SBS World News www.sbs.com.au , Australian Copt John Nour said the Coptic community was excited about the Pope’s historic visit. “He’s here to tell us that we are all working together, he’s coming here to bless us and see the projects we are doing.
“It’s very good of him to come such a long way,” he said. “It’s going to be a very big and exciting time for the Copts here to offer support to His Holiness and the Coptic community in Egypt as well,” Mr Nour said.
30 August 2017