A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Coptic Pope to Visit New Catholic Pope

Both the Coptic Church and the Catholic Church have chosen new leaders in the past year, and now Coptic Pope Tawadros II has told the Vatican Ambassador to Egypt that he will visit his new Catholic counterpart, Pope Francis, at the Vatican soon.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the late Pope Shenouda III's 1973 visit to Pope Paul VI at the Vatican, which marked the first direct meeting between the Roman and Alexandrian Popes since prior to the Council of Chalcedon in 451AD. Pope Paul VI had earlier repatriated a relic of Saint Mark from Venice to Egypt on the occasion of the dedication of the new Coptic Cathedral in Abbasiyya in 1968, as a gesture to Shenouda's predecessor, Pope Cyril VI. Subsequently, in 2000, the late Pope John Paul II visited Egypt and met with Shenouda prior to making a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai and the Holy Land. The two churches have also maintained an ecumenical dialogue at lower levels.


David Mack said...

Both the Coptic pope and the Roman Catholic pope will be aware of another historical connection. In 1219, St. Francis of Assisi, namesake of the new pope in Rome, crossed the battle lines at Damietta as part of the Fifth Crusade. The Ayyubid Sultan al-Kamil received this barefoot holy man with a mixture of curiosity and respect. He probably thought St. Francis was a bit crazy, but he did not view him as a threat. The same was not true for the Roman Catholic hierarchy, who saw that St. Francis was popular and felt threatened by his example of forgoing worldly possessions.

David Mack said...

One additional comment: When Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 prisoners on Maundy Thursday, two of them were Muslims. Pope Tawadros visiting Pope Francis in Rome should be a win-win for all concerned.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

And on the Saint Francis/Sultan meeting, complete with Old Masters Art, see here: http://mideasti.blogspot.com/2013/03/speaking-of-st-francis-saint-meets.html