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Suffering will strengthen Egypt's Christians, Pope assures Coptic leader

May 10, 2013

For the embattled Christians of Egypt, “the sharing of daily suffering can become an effective instrument of unity,” Pope Francis said on May 10, as he met with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.

The Pope praised the leader of Egypt’s largest Christian body for establishing a National Council of Christian Churches, as a means of strengthening ties among the members of the country’s religious minority. Pope Francis said that it is a “law of Christian life” that sharing in trials will strengthen the Church. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together,” he said.

The Pope also paid homage to the Christians of Egypt, who trace their roots to the preaching of St. Mark the apostle, and their “inestimable heritage of martyrs, theologians, holy monks, and faithful disciples of Christ, who have borne witness to the Gospel from generation to generation, often in situations of great adversity.”

The meeting between Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros came exactly 40 years after their predecessors, Popes Paul VI and Shenouda III, signed a joint declaration of faith, largely resolving theological disputes that had divided the two faiths for centuries. Pope Francis referred to that agreement as “a milestone on the ecumenical journey,” which had “prepared the ground for a broader dialogue between the Catholic Church and the entire family of Oriental Orthodox churches.”

Pope Tawadros, in his turn, suggested that May 10, the date of that agreement, should be observed annually as a day for joint celebrations by the Catholic and Coptic communities. The Egyptian prelate issued an invitation to Pope Francis to visit his patriarchal church.


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