Pope Francis calls for unity in message to Pope Tawadros II
Pope Francis - REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito

CAIRO: The Vatican and the Coptic Church are more united than divided, Pope Francis told Coptic Patriarch Pope Tawadros II in a Tuesday message to commemorate the Coptic pope’s last year visit to the Vatican.

According to Youm7, Francis said the two churches currently enjoy a serious but incomplete partnership.

Pope Tawadros II had conducted a historic visit to the Vatican in May 2013. He met with Pope Francis to congratulate him on his papal inauguration. The two discussed methods of reviving historic relations between the two churches.

Francis’ message comes to express pleasure towards initiatives that aim to strengthen relations between the two churches during the coming period, Rafik Greish, head of the Catholic Church Press Office, said in a Tuesday press statement.

Pope Tawadros expressed his keenness to achieve unity among churches all over the world, in light of increasing challenges. After his visit to the Vatican, Tawadros said during a May 23, 2013 sermon that the church would form a commission with the Catholic Church to consider the recognition of Catholic baptism, a matter that raised a state of controversy among Copts.

Bishop Aghabios of Deir Mawas said in a February statement to Al-Sabah Newspaper, that achieving unity between churches would strengthen relations between Christians all over the world. He nevertheless added, “Full unity is an impossible mission. Each church has its own faith that cannot be abandoned.”

On the other hand, sources said that a number of extremist clerics expressed their refusal to calls of unity. They organized conferences to rally Copts against actions aiming to bridge the gap between different Christian denominations.

According to Mobtada News Website, a number of bishops tried to rally young Copts against Tawadros, citing his decision to exclude them from the church’s circle of influence. They accused the Coptic Pope of abandoning the Coptic faith.

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