Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

5/18/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

When unification among Christians is achieved, all of heaven will rejoice and the world will change. This is our time, our moment in history. God created us for this precise moment. Let us not fear it, but embrace it in faith, hope and love.

Pope Francis and Patriarch Tawadros II

Pope Francis and Patriarch Tawadros II

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/18/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Ecumenism, Unity, Copt, Christian, full communion, Catholic, Pope Francis, Tawadros II, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - When it comes to the news, it seems like ecumenical efforts directed at restoring full Christian communion are taking place under the radar. Even so, I suspect it is a sleeping giant, for when unification is achieved, all of heaven will rejoice and the world will change.

The historic meeting last week between Pope Francis and Tawadros II, the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, is the latest example of efforts directed at Christian unity. Their words were filled with generosity and hope.

Tawadros II congratulated Francis on his appointment as Pope and Bishop of Rome. "I am honored and very glad to be here in the Vatican. Despite its being the smallest country in the world, it is the most important country for its great influence and Holy Service." 

He wanted this meeting to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Shenouda III, which took place on May 10, 1973. That was the first visit ever by a patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria to the Vatican. It began the process to heal the old wounds of distrust opened centuries ago. Paul VI and Shenouda III signed a joint statement pledging to search for reconciliation and unity between the two Churches.

That meeting was followed by Pope John Paul II's visit to Egypt in 2000, during his Great Jubilee pilgrimage to the places where Christianity began. John Paul II pictured the unification of the Eastern and Western Churches as breathing with two lungs. As I understand it, the image represents the importance of uniting the West's more rational and organizational approach with the East's more intuitive, mystical and contemplative approach.

Tawadros II then spoke of his love for Egypt and his Coptic heritage. He called Egypt '"the Nile Country,' a huge land with a wonderful geographical location. . . where the most ancient culture in the world was born, the Pharaonic Civilization." He also referred to Egypt's intimate connection with the Greek, Roman, Coptic and Islamic civilizations.

The Patriarch added, "Egypt has witnessed divine signs like no other place on earth. As the Prophet says, "Out of Egypt, I have called my son" and "Blessed be Egypt my people." He spoke of the Holy Family's three-year sojourn, that they blessed the whole country "with the sign of the Holy Cross" and that Jesus made its soil sacred.

He spoke of Saint Mark the Evangelist, who spread Christianity throughout Egypt and was martyred in the great city of Alexandria; and of Saint Anthony, who initiated monastic life; and Saint Athanasius, also known as the "Protector of the Faith" and the youngest pope of the Coptic Church.

He also emphasized the Copt's feelings toward Italy. He said "that the relationships between Italy and Egypt are utterly solid and long established, spanning over more than two millennia. The two countries can boast marvelous Mediterranean civilizations and human heritage that make them unique in the world. Therefore, Italy has a great place and worth in our hearts."

The Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church are strongly interconnected, he said. "They have always worked together since the early ecumenical councils (going back to the first Nicaea Council in 325 A.D., when the 'Nicene Creed' was formulated in the fourth century. . . )." Both Churches, he added, "the Catholic and the Coptic, have always worked together in the Middle East and in the Western World to make peace prevail."

It was Tawadros II's wish "that the excellent relationships between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic [Church] may become stronger and more prosperous." In recognition of these historic meetings beginning with Paul VI and Shenouda III,  Tawadros II proposed that every year on May 10th "should be considered as a celebration of brotherly love between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church."

Pope Francis' opening remarks also reflected the growing friendship between the two Churches. He said, "Today's visit strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark, heir to an 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."

He noted that the Commission for Theological Dialogue, a result of the Common Declaration from 40 years ago, had "yielded good results and prepared the ground for a broader dialogue between the Catholic Church and the entire family of Oriental Orthodox Churches."

He added, "In that solemn Declaration, our Churches acknowledged that, in line with the apostolic traditions, they profess 'one faith in the One Triune God' and 'the divinity of the Only-begotten Son of God ... perfect God with respect to his divinity, perfect man with respect to his humanity.' They acknowledged that divine life is given to us and nourished through the seven sacraments and they recognized a mutual bond in their common devotion to the Mother of God."

"We are glad to be able to confirm today what our illustrious predecessors solemnly declared, we are glad to recognize that we are united by one Baptism, of which our common prayer is a special expression, and we long for the day when, in fulfillment of the Lord's desire, we will be able to communicate from the one chalice."

Francis also recognized Tawadros II's many contributions of fraternal charity to the Catholic Coptic Church, to build communion among Christians, and his efforts to secure a role for Christian communities within Egyptian society. It finds "a deep echo in the heart of the Successor of Peter and of the entire Catholic community," Francis said. "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Cor 12:26).

"This is a law of the Christian life, and in this sense we can say that there is also an ecumenism of suffering: just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity. And this also applies, in a certain sense, to the broader context of society and relations between Christians and non-Christians: from shared suffering can blossom forth forgiveness and reconciliation, with God's help."

On May 12, just a couple days after their historic meeting, Pope Francis canonized over 800  martyrs of Otranto. He prayed, "As we venerate the martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain those many Christians who, in these times and in many parts of the world, right now, still suffer violence, and give them the courage and fidelity to respond to evil with good."

Otranto is a coastal city in southern Italy. In 1480 it was attacked by Muslim-Ottoman armies as part of an overall invasion of Italy. The day after the Muslims conquered the city, they beheaded over 800 Italian Christians who refused to convert to Islam.

Pope Francis' prayer, inspired by the martyrs of Otranto, for Christians still suffering violence today reminds us that the Copts, and Christians throughout the Middle east, Africa and the East, are suffering at the hands of Islamists and oppressive authoritarian governments. Even the free nations of the West are becoming hostile toward Christians as secularists amass greater power. 

But we need not fear. This is our time, our moment in history. God created us for this precise moment. Therefore, let us embrace it in faith, hope and love; and let us follow the lead of Pope Francis and Patriarch Tawadros II, trusting that God will give us the courage and fidelity we need to respond to evil with good. Let the sleeping giant rise!

 
-----

Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

-----

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.



Comments


More Europe

REVEALED AT LAST: Dreaded 'Jihadi John,' ISIS murderer, has face shown in college portrait Watch

Image of Jihadi John's college photo shows him with a solemn expression - hinting at the inhumanity to come.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former London resident Mohammed Emwazi, who would go on to worldwide infamy as  "Jihadi John," Islamist State's most notorious executioner has had his college portrait released. Emwazi sports a Pittsburgh Pirates cap, reportedly for his University of ... continue reading


France uneasy as drones spotted over U.S. Embassy, landmarks - Terrorists suspected Watch

Image of Soldiers guard several sites in Paris as the threat of terror attacks grows.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

French officials are worried that a terror attack may be imminent in Paris after drones were spotted flying over several landmarks including the U.S. Embassy. Police were unable to locate the operators. PARIS, FRANCE (Catholic Online) - The AFP is reporting that for ... continue reading


U.S. soldiers dare Putin just 300 yards from Russian border Watch

Image of A U.S. Army armored personal carrier during a military parade in Estonia to mark the nation's independence day.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A sign of growing tension in Europe, and possibly a warning to Russia occurred in the Baltic nation of Estonia, as it marked its independence day with a military parade that prominently featured troops and equipment from NATO forces - including U.S. troops - that ... continue reading


Former Russian soldier reveals that Putin has sent troops into Ukraine! Watch

Image of Moscow denied that Russian soldiers were in Crimea when it was taken, but that proved to be a lie.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The ceasefire that was agreed to in Minsk by the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia did not last even a day before Russian supported rebels broke it by shelling the besieged town of Debaltseve which prompted a withdrawal of Ukraine forces. LOS ... continue reading


Italy deploys 1,800 soldiers in response to possible ISIS attacks on Vatican and Italy Watch

Image of The Islamic State's large presence in Libya has worried many in Europe, and fears are growing that an attempt could be made on the Pope's life.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Because of the growing power of the Islamic State in Libya, as well as threats made by the group against the Vatican and Pope Francis, security across Italy and the Vatican has been stepped up, officials revealed on February 18. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Forced into sex work, trafficked people suffer unbelievable abuse Watch

Image of Many young girls forced into sex work forego returning to their homes and families due to their shameful circumstances.

By Alex Whiting, Thomson Reuters Foundation

From dog attacks, strangulation and rape, to injured anglers being thrown overboard and left to drown, trafficked people can suffer extreme violence and severe health problems no matter where they end up working, researchers have found. LONDON (Thomson Reuters ... continue reading


Brought to light: German Catholic archdiocese reveals more wealth than Vatican Watch

Image of The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Cologne in Germany has since disclosed it is worth $3.82 billion in U.S. dollars, making it richer than the Vatican.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an effort on the part of Pope Francis to make the finances of the Catholic Church more transparent, surprising things have been learned. The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Cologne in Germany has since disclosed it is worth $3.82 billion in U.S. dollars, ... continue reading


Copenhagen next on Islamic hit list: two terrorist attacks rock Danish capital within hours of each other Watch

Image of Danish police have started a nation wide manhunt for one or possibly more suspects who were involved in two shootings in Copenhagen, which left two dead and five injured.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Danish police have mounted a nationwide manhunt for one gunman or more, who was involved in the shooting of a forum on free speech that left one dead and three police officers injured before fleeing in a stolen car; a second attack occurred the same day, and ... continue reading


Playing the West like a fiddle: Putin signs 'peace treaty' while sending tanks and troops into Ukraine Watch

Image of Russian President Vladimir Putin is playing the western world like a fiddle.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia met over a marathon session to formulate and sign a ceasefire agreement intended to end the almost year long civil war in Ukraine, activity along the Russo-Ukrainian border has left many skeptical that this ... continue reading


Priceless, 'lost' Leonard da Vinci painting rescued from bank vault in Italy Watch

Image of The painting had been rediscovered in 2013 in a collection of 400 artworks kept in a Swiss vault. The authorities then were alerted to the existence of the painting -- but the portrait went missing again.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A painting by the man who defined the term "Renaissance," Leonardo da Vinci, has been rescued by Italian authorities from a bank vault in Switzerland. While described as "lost" - in was more than likely stolen, the painting was at risk for selling in the black ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Psalms 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19
4 I pleaded with Yahweh my God and made this ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19
15 Costly in Yahweh's sight is the death of his ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 9:2-10
2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 8:31-34
31 After saying this, what can we add? If God is for ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 1st, 2015 Image

St. David
March 1: According to tradition, St. David was the son of King Sant of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter