(SSJC) - Pope Francis met on Friday with the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, telling him the future of Egypt and the role of its Christian communities finds a deep echo in the heart of the entire Catholic world. Pope Tawadros of Alexandria, who heads the largest Christian Church in the Middle East, is currently making a five day visit to Rome, his first outside Egypt since his enthronement last November. He’s due to hold talks with Vatican and Italian officials, as well as celebrating together with the various Coptic communities here in Italy.
Friday’s meeting between the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox popes comes 40 years to the day after the first historic encounter between Pope Paul VI and Tawadros’ predecessor, Shenouda III, who signed a joint statement pledging the two Churches to the search for reconciliation and unity.
In his speech to Pope Francis, Tawadros proposed that May 10th each year should be marked as a day of celebration between the two communities. He also invited the successor of St Peter to visit his Church, founded by St Mark the Evangelist around the middle of the 1st century.
Following the papal audience, Philippa Hitchen spoke to the Coptic leader and asked for his impressions of the meeting.