May 10th marks the anniversary of the encounter between the Bishop of Rome and the head of the Coptic Church, the largest Christian church in Egypt. Traveling the path towards visible unity. Some comments from Sherin, focolarina from the Coptic Church.
May 10, 2013. Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II meet at the Vatican to remember the historic appointment that took place 40 years ealier between their predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III, and their Common Declaration on the one faith that is professed by churches with different traditions. During his remarks, Pope Francis stated: “I am convinced that – under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – our persevering prayer, our dialogue and the will to build communion day by day in mutual love will allow us to take important further steps towards full unity.”
During an interview Pope Tawadros II stated: “I believe in the diversity in unity. Being in a garden where all the flowers are red and of the same hight, is boring. But being in a garden where I see a pink rose, a yellow rose and a white rose; and I see trees of different heights – this diversity expresses beauty and strength. When I am sitting with you I am rich of my brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Coptic focolarina, Sherin, offers her thoughts: “These are words spoken by someone who has the courage to love his brothers and sisters, to shorten the distance and time in favour of understanding and renewed sharing after years of distance, enabling the two Churches to take up a path of peace and brotherhood. It will not be possible to erase these words from memory nor from the history of ecumenism until the churches rejoice on the day of the full unity of thier children.”
The 2013 visit of Pope Tawadros II had been the first, following his election. Perhaps he wished to pay a visit to the Successor of Peter, Pope Francis. It was the second historic visit of a Coptic Pope to the Pope of Rome, that helped to lessen the distance between the two Churches.
“That encounter between those two great men of God is still alive in my memory as, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they continue to conduct their flock towards the one Church that will come in God’s time. The memory of their fraternal embrace and the mutual love that could be visibly seen between them fills me with immense joy. I join my sisters and brothers of both Churches in celebrating this occasion, and with enthusiasm I look towards the near future, confident in the steps that will draw us closer and closer. This is a cause of great rejoicing for the entire Church!
It encourages me to live for unity even more, a possibility that had fascinated me years ago when I met the Focolare Movement where I discovered the ‘precious pearl’ of the Gospel, for which you sell everything you have.
I share this life in focolare with sisters from various Churches, and this is where I experience the joy of the Risen One, a sign of what the Church will be in its full unity. Each day we pray, work, share moments of suffering as Pope Francis said when he spoke about the ecumenism of suffering, and it makes us grow in love and mutual respect, believing that on the Cross, Jesus has overcome all our divisions and filled every void. I am grateful for the many people across the world with whom I share this experience. We live and pray for this unity, that it might be experienced and lived by everyone.”
Sherin - Sohag, Egypt