An unusual general audience in the Vatican. There were… two popes

At the beginning of today’s general audience, Pope Francis welcomed the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Tawadros II, and the delegation accompanying him. The two exchanged the kiss of peace, and the pope kissed the pectoral (cross) of the head of the Coptic Church, who then uttered words of greeting.

Pope’s words during today’s general audience:

Brothers and sisters!

– It is with great joy that I greet today His Holiness Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Marek, and the dignified delegation accompanying him.

– His Holiness Tawadros accepted my invitation to come to Rome and celebrate with me the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III in 1973. It was the first meeting between the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which concluded on May 10 with the signing of a memorable joint Christological declaration. In remembrance of this event, His Holiness Tawadros came to me for the first time on May 10 ten years ago, a few months after his and my election, and proposed that every May 10 be celebrated “Day of Coptic-Catholic Friendship”, which we have been celebrating every year since then we called each other, we exchanged greetings, we were like good brothers, we didn’t argue.

– Dear friend and brother Tawadros, I thank you for accepting my invitation on this double anniversary and I pray that the light of the Holy Spirit will illuminate your visit to Rome, the important meetings you will have here, and especially our personal conversations. I sincerely thank you for your commitment to the growing friendship between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.

– Your Holiness, dear bishops and dear friends, together with you I implore Almighty God, through the intercession of the saints and martyrs of the Coptic Church, to help us grow in communion, in the one and holy bond of faith, hope and Christian love. Speaking of the martyrs of the Coptic Church, who are also ours, I would like to recall the martyrs on the Libyan beach who became martyrs a few years ago.

– I ask everyone present to pray to God to bless the visit of Pope Tawadros to Rome and to protect the entire Coptic Orthodox Church. May this visit bring us closer to the blessed day when we will be one in Christ!

The audience ended with a blessing given by the Holy Father and Patriarch Tawadros.

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