Bridging a 15-century divide: Pope Tawadros discusses Orthodox-Catholic reconciliation with Italian media

Ahram Online , Friday 12 May 2023

The path of Orthodox-Catholic reconciliation has been a long one, lasting 15 centuries, said Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.

 Pope Tawadros II during a dialogue session with Italian journalists and TV channels : Photo courtes
Pope Tawadros II during a dialogue session with Italian journalists and TV channels : Photo courtesy of Orthodox Church


Pope Tawadros' remarks came during a 60-minute interview with Italian journalists and TV channels on Thursday, the second of his three-day visit to the Vatican to mark the 50th anniversary of Coptic Orthodox-Catholic relations.

The reconciliation between the Catholic and Coptic churches stems from an agreement signed in 1973 between the Coptic Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church which resulted in the settlement of a longstanding 1,500-year-old theological dispute.

Tawadros II, pope of Alexandria and patriarch of the See of St Mark, said he sees such reconciliation progressing through several steps, while sharing with the media outlets the gifts exchanged between the two popes, according to a statement by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Pope Francis gifted relics of Saint Catherine to Pope Tawadros, while Pope Tawadros presented clothing fragments of the 21 Coptic martyrs, who were killed by the Islamic State terrorist group in Libya in 2015, to Pope Francis.


Pope Tawadros II and Pope Francis exchanging presents: photo courtesy of the orthodox church.

In this context, Pope Francis announced that the Roman Catholic Church recognizes the 21 Coptic martyrs as martyrs in the church, indicating that he would create an altar in their name, according to the statement.

In response to a question on human rights in Egypt, Pope Tawadros emphasized that they don't include just only political rights, but also economic and social rights.

“Egypt is a country with a limited economy and a poverty rate but the president and the government are working hard to provide a decent life for the poor and for everyone,” Pope Tawadros assured this in the statement. 

Regarding the Russia-Ukraine war, Pope Tawadros condemned the flow of weapons into the conflict, calling it a senseless war with no value. He prayed for wisdom to end the war, which has affected the whole world, not just Egypt.

On his first day to the Vatican, Tawadros delivered a speech in the presence of Pope Francis during the weekly public hearing in St. Peter's Square, congratulating the latter on his 10th anniversary of being elected as pope and bishop of Rome.

"I appreciate all that you have done during this time to serve the entire world in all fields, and I pray that Christ will keep you in good health and grant you the blessing of a long life," Pope Tawadros said.

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