A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 10, 2013

So, What Do a Coptic Pope and a Catholic Pope Do When They Meet?

The second day of Coptic Pope Tawadros II's visit to the Vatican and Catholic Pope Francis (two Popes!  No waiting!) was today. Assuming it would be rude for them to rehash the disagreements over the Council of Chalcedon, what DO they do? Based on press photos, they exchange gifts:
That looks heavy.

And work on the official statements in which we avoid discussing the differences that have separated the churches for over 1500 years, but congratulate each other on becoming Pope:


David Mack said...

Proof that world leaders can be diplomatic even when they have deep disagreements. Good examples for the likes of President Mursi in Egypt and PM Maleki in Iraq. Today, my taxi driver, an Amharic Christian named Soloman, spoke approvingly of Pope Francis, especially compared to his European first predecessor. He also noted that the Ethiopian Christians are in the process of choosing a new pope. Another African visitor coming soon to the Vatican?

David Mack said...

My wife, art historian Rosamond Mack, notes that the book that is open in the background between the two popes appears to be a bi-lingual bible with facing texts on each page -- one language running right to left and the other left to right -- Latin and Coptic or Latin and Arabic? Francis is showing his multi-cultural sensitivity. Kudos to him or, at least, to his aides.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

An interesting point I'd missed; unfortunately at least the version of the photo I have is too blurry to tell. One other possibility: could it even be four languages: two right to left (Hebrew and Arabic or Hebrew and Syriac) and two left to right (Greek and Coptic or Latin and Coptic)? Jerome and others did side-by-side versions, I know.