Catholics, Orthodox must work toward unity in diversity, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a letter to Coptic Orthodox Pope
Tawadros II, Pope Francis said he hoped that both their churches can continue along
the path of true unity and communion.

The bond between the Catholic Church and the Coptic
Orthodox Church is a reminder “to intensify our common efforts to
persevere in the search for visible unity in diversity, under the guidance of
the Holy Spirit,” the pope wrote in a letter to the patriarch May 10.

“Along this path, we are sustained by the powerful
intercession and example of the martyrs. May we continue to advance together on
our journey toward
the same eucharistic
table, and grow in love and reconciliation,” he said.

The letter commemorated the “Day of friendship
between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church,” which marks the
44th anniversary of the first meeting between Blessed Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III.

Recalling his visit April 28-29 to Cairo, Pope Francis
expressed his appreciation for the agreement he and Pope Tawadros signed ending a long disagreement between
the two churches over the sacrament of baptism.

In the
joint declaration, the two leaders declared they “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.”

Pope Francis said he was “especially grateful that
we have strengthened our baptismal unity in the body of Christ.”

He also
assured Pope Tawadros of his prayers “for you, and for peace in Egypt and
the Middle East.”

the Spirit of peace bestow on us an increase of hope, friendship and
harmony,” the pope said.

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Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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