Upon the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, a delegation of young priests and monks from different Oriental Orthodox Churches took part for the first time in a study visit aimed at deepening their understanding of the Catholic Church.
Eighteen monks and priests nominated by their respective Heads of Churches (three from each Oriental Orthodox Church, namely the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church [See of Etchmiadzin and See of Cilicia], the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church) took part in the initiative, coming from Egypt, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, India and Ethiopia. From 15–22 February the group will have the opportunity to visit some holy sites of Rome, dicasteries of the Roman Curia, Pontifical universities and colleges, communities and monasteries.
On Sunday 16 February, the first day of the visit, the members of the delegation took part in the Sunday Holy Mass in the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter, presided over by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, and also visited the catacombs of Saint Priscilla. At the end of the day, they visited the Abbey of Sant’Anselmo, where they met the Prior and representatives of the Pontifical University, later taking part in the Vespers and dining with the Benedictine community.
In the following days, the group will visit dicasteries of the Roman Curia, in particular the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Secretariat of State, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
The delegation will visit different educational institutions, in particular the Pontifical Lateran University, the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Pontifical Ethiopian College, the Pontifical Armenian College and the Pontifical Maronite College.
On Friday 21 February the group will be received in a private audience with the Holy Father.