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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Europe

GRAPHIC VIDEO on website warns away French nationals against joining Islamist State Watch

Image of Indonesia, along with France, is launching campaigns to counter recruitment among young people from Islamic State.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The French government, in the weeks following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, has released a website and video aimed at countering extremism. The video specifically targets young French Muslims who may be seduced into joining jihadist terror group Islamic ... continue reading


RUMORS OF WARS: Under-reported conflicts in world leave little hope of change Watch

Image of Fighting in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo displaced some 770,000 people in 2014.

By Alex Whiting, Thomson Reuters Foundation

While wars in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine make headlines in the West, around 30 other conflicts receive little press coverage, and the resulting lack of pressure for change could have serious implications for millions of people, experts say. LONDON (Thomson Reuters ... continue reading


Was fearsome Blackbeard the Pirate - an old softie? New evidence suggests so Watch

Image of Blackbeard the Pirate was played by Ian McShane in

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Blackbeard the Pirate was legendary for his ruthlessness and terrorizing shipping lanes in the West Atlantic. However - there appears to have been a kinder, gentler side to his personality as well. Wreckage culled from the Queen Anne's Revenge suggests that ... continue reading


Astonishing skull find reveals new information on interbreeding between Neanderthals and the modern man Watch

Image of The relative rarity of human fossils from this period means these ancestors of all present-day non-African modern populations have remained largely enigmatic.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A skull in an Israeli cave recently is one of the earliest known evidence of primitive Europeans yet found. The archaeological find is shedding light on the migration of modern humans out of Africa. The find suggests humans and Neanderthals were interbreeding ... continue reading


Forced into prostitution: Greece's economic crisis has married women, mothers hitting streets Watch

Image of The situation of Grecian streets is worsening, as many of the Greek women now turning to prostitution don't bear even a passing resemblance to the drug-addled stereotype of the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Greece, at the heart of the European economic crisis of a few years past, has elected the "anti-austerity" organization the Syriza Party into office. Mass unemployment remains, with more than 50 percent on the nation's young people without work. An even seedier ... continue reading


The first tax revolt: 800 years later, the Magna Carta stands boldly as spiritual predecessor to the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution Watch

Image of A copy of the Magna Carta on display.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This year will mark the eighth centennial of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John at Runnymede near Windsor, on June 15, 2015. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Magna Carta was one of the first documents that limited the power of the English crown, and ... continue reading


VIDEO: 70 years later, drone flies over infamous death camps showing the shocking and HORRIBLE extent of Nazi death camps Watch

Image of The gates of the Auschwitz death camp, which in English say

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In 2015, more than 1,500 survivors of the Holocaust returned to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the death camp's liberation by Soviet troops. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On January 27, event organizers are ... continue reading


FEAR GRIPS VATICAN: 'Islamic State is clear. They want to kill the Pope' Watch

Image of Pope Francis has frequently spoken out against the Islamic State group. The Holy See has also voiced its support for U.S. air strikes in Iraq. This has led several to think that this increases the Pope's likelihood as a terrorist target.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican is under heightened concern that a terrorist attack may be imminent. Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See, Habib Al Sadr, at the time warned that "what has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear. They want to kill the Pope. The ... continue reading


Is Hitler funny? Leader of far-right German party steps down over inappropriate selfie Watch

Image of PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) is a German far-right group which is for deporting or denying entry for Muslims into Europe.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks earlier this month, as well as the numerous acts of terror perpetrated by Muslims throughout Europe over the last several years, Germany is seeing a resurgence of far-right radical groups whose attitudes and ... continue reading


Incredible footage of Lamborghini crashing at 200 MILES PER HOUR! Watch

Image of A Lamborghini Huracan crashed on the M7 motorway going 208 miles per hour. Both passenger and driver survived.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hungarian police have released footage of the first ever Lamborghini Huracan crash at more than 200 miles per hour. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In 2014 it was reported that a crash over 200mph occurred. A Huracan registered in the Czech Republic hit a barrier ... 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, Deuteronomy 18:15-20
15 Yahweh your God will raise up a prophet like me; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9
1 Come, let us cry out with joy to Yahweh, acclaim ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 1:21-28
21 They went as far as Capernaum, and at once on the ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 7:32-35
32 I should like you to have your minds free from all ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 1st, 2015 Image

St. Brigid of Ireland
February 1: Brigid was probably born at Faughart near Dundalk, Louth, ... 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