Recalling the third anniversary of their meeting in Rome, Pope Francis has sent a letter to Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
The church, which has 9 million members, is among the Oriental Orthodox churches that ceased to be in full communion with the Holy See following the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451).
“Though we are still journeying towards the day when we will gather as one at the same Eucharistic table, we are able even now to make visible the communion uniting us,” Pope Francis wrote on May 10. “Copts and Catholics can witness together to important values such as the holiness and dignity of every human life, the sanctity of marriage and family life, and respect for the creation entrusted to us by God.”
Referring to the persecution of Christians, Pope Francis added:
Your Holiness, every day my thoughts and prayers are with the Christian communities in Egypt and the Middle East, so many of whom are experiencing great hardship and tragic situations. I am well aware of your grave concern for the situation in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria, where our Christian brothers and sisters and other religious communities are facing daily trials. May God our Father grant peace and consolation to all those who suffer, and inspire the international community to respond wisely and justly to such unprecedented violence.