On his first visit to the UK [http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/coptic-affairs/pope-tawadros-first-visit-uk/20102/], Pope Tawadros was received by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace on 14 May. They attended Evensong together at Westminster Abbey, and prayed together at the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor.
The Archbishop said: “We have spoken about the need to maintain a society in which both Christians and Muslims are able to flourish, also of the need for unity among the Churches. And we spoke of the threats that come from extremism, not only to Christians but also to Muslims, as a threat that must be met in the short term by strong action, but also in the longer term by good education.”
During Evensong, the two Church leaders expressed their unity as brothers in Jesus Christ, while recognising that they have differences but that, according to the Archbishop: “these are differences that we continue to address through dialogue.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury offered Pope Tawadros as gift a pectoral cross, part of the insignia of the bishop in the Western Church, in the shape known as a Canterbury cross that dates from the 9th century. Pope Tawadros offered him a wooden Coptic cross which he immediately hung across his neck, as well as a Coptic icon. The Pope wrote a word in the guestbook: “Love Never Ends”.
During one of his talks with the Coptic congregation, which was later heavily circulated on Coptic social media, Pope Tawadros spoke of the joint statement he and Pope Francis had signed during the latter’s visit to Egypt on 28 May 2017. [http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/coptic-affairs/pope-francis-visits-egypt/19963/]
The Pope explained that it was not an agreement or a protocol, but a statement explaining in what light the two Churches were striving towards their ultimate goal of unity. He said the statement tackled past relations between the two Churches, highlighting the strong bond at the time of the early ecumenical councils and till the grand rift that followed the Council of Chalcedon in 541. It recalled the visit by Pope Shenouda III to Pope Paul VI to Rome in 1973, which yielded a Common Declaration on which later efforts at rapprochement between the Catholic and Orthodox Church were based.
The statement went on to stress current efforts towards unity and to highlight what is aimed in the future: “…we will strive diligently and in integrity towards refraining from the re-baptism that had been administered in either of our Churches for any person who wishes to join the other.”
17 May 2017