Vatican releases book marking 50th anniversary of Coptic Orthodox-Catholic relations

Ahram Online , Wednesday 10 May 2023

The Vatican announced on Wednesday it released a book about the Vatican's efforts to promote Christian unity in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Shenouda III of Egypt and Pope Paul VI of Rome on 10 May 1973.

The Orthodox Church and Catholic Church 50th anniversary book(Photo courtesy of Orthodox Church)
The Orthodox Church and Catholic Church 50th anniversary book(Photo courtesy of Orthodox Church)


The book is titled The Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church: 50th Anniversary of the Meeting between Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III (1973-2023).

The book release comes in tandem with Egypt's Pope Tawadros II’s three-day visit (10-12 May) to the Vatican, marking 50 years of relations between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The agreement signed in 1973 between the Coptic Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church ended a 1,500-year-old theological dispute, ushering in a new period of improved relations between the Coptic and Catholic groups.

The book includes papers documenting the dialogues between the two churches from the second Vatican Council till present, according to a statement by the Coptic Orthodox Church. 

"It contains a joint introduction by His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Pope Tawadros II. The introduction emphasises the importance of constantly asking ourselves where we need to go beyond our current state in our journey towards full communion," the statement explained.

In the introduction, the two popes describe the 10 May 1973 meeting between Pope Shenouda III and Pope Paul VI  as a “historic meeting” and note that the book brings together the key documents of the rapprochement between the Catholic and Coptic Orthodox churches. 

Moreover, the two popes recall the joint Christological declaration issued by the two churches on 10 May 1973 which later led to producing a document outlining the principles for seeking unity between the two churches, signed by Pope John Paul II and Pope Shenouda III in 1979.

In the book, Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II recall their first meeting on 10 May 2013, during which they announced the celebration of the Day of Friendship between Catholics and Copts, which continues to be celebrated annually. 

Finally, the two popes expressed their hope for the growth of brotherly love and friendship between the two churches, leading to the long-awaited day when they can celebrate together at the altar, the statement concluded. 

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