To His Holiness Tawadros II
Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark
8 May 2020
As we approach the annual Day of Friendship Between Copts and Catholics, I wish to express my profound joy at the ever deeper spiritual bond that unites the See of Saint Peter and the See of Saint Mark.
This bond of friendship and affection between our Churches calls to mind the well-known “Icon of friendship” of the sixth century depicting the Lord placing his hand on the shoulder of his friend, the holy monk Mena of Egypt. Indeed, our bond is rooted in the friendship of Jesus Christ himself with all his followers.
Along this path of friendship, we are inspired and sustained by the example and powerful intercession and example of the martyrs, together with all who have suffered in the name of Christ, in the conviction that “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). This friendship is likewise strengthened by the theological dialogue between our Churches, founded on the Lord’s words: “I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15).
Beloved brother in Christ, may the Holy Spirit unite us ever more in our shared pilgrimage of Christian friendship that has as its goal the fulfilment of Christ’s prayer “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21). May Christ look kindly upon us and upon the suffering human family, as our prayers rise before him, especially in this present time of pandemic.
Assuring Your Holiness of my continued spiritual closeness, I willingly embrace you in the grace and peace of Our Risen Saviour Jesus Christ.
Rome, from Saint John of Lateran, 8 May 2020