Pope Tawadros II seized the opportunity of Christmas to visit the heads of the Churches in Egypt that celebrate Christmas on 25 December, to offer his good wishes and respects.
The Pope was accompanied by Bishop of Youth Anba Moussa, Bishop of Shubral-Kheima Anba Morqos, Deputy of the patriarchate Father Sergius, and manager of ecumenical relations at the Coptic Cultural Centre Sobhy Girgis.
The first visit was to the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate where Pope Tawadros met Bishop Kyrillos William, administrator of the Coptic Catholic Church, to wish the Coptic Catholic Church a blessed Christmas. The patriarch, Cardinal Antonius Naguib, was sick and unable to meet the Coptic Orthodox patriarch, so Pope Tawadros paid him a special visit two days later.
Pope Tawadros also visited the Greek Melkite Catholic Church where he offered his good wishes to Pope Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, who keeps a tradition of celebrating Christmas with his congregation in Cairo. The third visit was to the Greek Orthodox Pope Theodore II of Alexandria and all Africa, who thanked Pope Tawadros for his visit, and prayed that his papacy would be blessed, since he had become patriarch “while Egypt is undergoing difficult times”.
Father Rafiq Greiche, the spokesman for the Catholic Churches in Egypt, said that Pope Tawadros’s visit was a source of great happiness and blessing, since it confirmed the love and cordial relations between the Churches in Egypt. “The Late Pope Shenouda III,” Fr Rafiq said, “had been used to make this round of Christmas visits, until his health failed the last three years. We are very happy Pope Tawadros has picked the thread and resumed the visits.” Bishop Kyrillos William said that, even before Pope Tawadros II was chosen as patriarch last November, all the Churches had been invited to pray together with the Coptic Orthodox Church for the Lord to choose a new pope according to His will. “Ever since,” he said, “we feel we are indeed one Church, and that Pope Tawadros is not only the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox, but is also the spiritual father of the entire Middle East, in his capacity as head of the largest Christian community there.”
For his part, Pope Tawadros said that compassionate relations have always tied the Churches in Egypt, and expressed his personal love and respect to each of them. He asked them all to join in prayer for Egypt, saying that the nativity of Christ should be a message of love to the entire world.
28 December 2012