Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis reiterates his desire to pursue the journey towards full unity and expresses gratitude for the welcome he received during his visit to Cairo in the message he addressed to the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II on the day – 10 May – dedicated to Coptic-Catholic friendship.
During the papal visit to Egypt on 28 and 29 April, Francis and Tawadros signed a joint declaration that ends the conflict between Copts and Catholics over the baptism and thus leads to mutual recognition of this sacrament. The pope also visited the Coptic Church dedicated to Saint Peter, where he spoke of the "blood ecumenism" that unites Christians of the two Churches.
Francis’s message follows:
To His Holiness Tawadros II Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark
After my visit to Egypt and the blessed encounter with Your Holiness in Cairo, and recalling the fourth anniversary of our fraternal meeting in Rome on 10 May 2013, I take this opportunity to offer my prayerful best wishes for your peace and health, as well as my joy and gratitude for the spiritual bonds uniting the See of Peter and the See of Mark.
I once more express my profound appreciation for your hospitality and for our moving meeting and common prayer as brothers in Christ. I am especially grateful that we have strengthened our baptismal unity in the body of Christ by declaring together “that we, with one mind and heart, will seek sincerely not to repeat the baptism that has been administered in either of our Churches for any person who wishes to join the other”. Our bonds of fraternity “challenge us to intensify our common efforts to persevere in the search for visible unity in diversity, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit”.
Along this path we are sustained by the powerful intercession and example of the martyrs. May we continue to advance together on our journey towards the same Eucharistic table, and grow in love and reconciliation.
I assure Your Holiness of my continued prayers for you, and for peace in Egypt and the Middle East. In this Easter season I pray that the Holy Spirit, the strength and tenderness of God, may fill our hearts with his grace and kindle in them the fire of his love. May the Spirit of peace bestow on us an increase of hope, friendship and harmony.
With these sentiments, on this special occasion which has rightly become known as the day of friendship between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, I exchange with Your Holiness a fraternal embrace of peace in Christ our Lord.