On Thursday 11 May, the Holy Father received His Holiness Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting of their predecessors, Pope Saint Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III (1973-2023).
After a private conversation and presentation of the Coptic Delegation, both delivered speeches.
In his greeting, Pope Tawadros recalled the different stages of the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church, “a long journey that we travel together towards God who said: 'I am the way' (Jn 14:6)". He mentioned in particular the theological dialogue, "a long but sure path, protected by the two sides of love: that of Christ's love for us and that of mutual love". He also evoked the saints and martyrs who are bonds of communion between the Churches. "Precisely because the saints are one of the main pillars of our Churches, beginning with the apostles Peter, Paul and Mark, we now write in the martyrology of the Churches new Martyrs who have guarded the faith and borne witness to Christ", Pope Tawadros said, mentioning the twenty-one Martyrs of Libya.
The Holy Father, responding to Pope Tawadros, said that on the ecumenical path it is important not only to "always look forward" and to remember the past and but also to "look up". Recalling the “Day of Friendship between Copts and Catholics”, Pope Francis mentioned the Coptic icon "of friendship" as well as the martyrs who gave their lives for their friends (Jn 15:13). In this regard, the Holy Father announced that the twenty-one martyrs killed in Libya on 15 February 2015 "will be included in the Roman Martyrology as a sign of the spiritual communion that unites our two Churches".
At the end of the audience, the Holy Father and Pope Tawadros exchanged gifts. While Pope Tawadros offered Pope Francis relics of the twenty-one Coptic Martyrs of Libia, the Holy Father offered Pope Tawadros a relic of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The meeting ended with an ecumenical prayer in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel.
Also present on this occasion was the entire delegation of His Holiness Tawadros II: His Eminence Daniel, Metropolitan of Maadi and El-Basateen, Secretary General of the Holy Synod; His Eminence Paphnutius, Metropolitan of Samalut and Taha El Aameda; His Excellency Julius, Patriarchal Social Services Administrator; His Excellency Angaelos, Archbishop of London, Southern England and South Wales; His Excellency Antonio, Bishop of Milan and Northern Italy; His Excellency Barnaba, Bishop of Turin and Southern Italy; His Excellency Kyrillos, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Co-President of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches; Revd Fr Kyrillos El Anba Bishoi, Personal Secretary of His Holiness Tawadros II; Mr Michel, in charge of communications.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, Prefect of the DPUC, H.E. Msgr Bishop Farrell, and Revd Father Hyacinthe Destivelle, OP, also participated in the meeting with Pope Francis.
Photos © Servizio Fotografico | Vatican Media