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Thursday, May 08, 2014
Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II Suggests One Easter Date for All Christian Churches in Letter to Pope Francis

Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II Suggests One Easter Date for All Christian Churches in Letter to Pope Francis

In a letter to Pope Francis, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church Tawadros II proposed making one date for Easter celebrations for all Christian Churches.

According to Fides News Agency, Tawadros II's letter was delivered to the Apostolic Nuncio to the Arab Republic of Egypt, His Exc. Mgr. Paul Gobel. The letter also marks the anniversary of the first meeting in the Vatican between the two popes.

Francis' representative has in turn invited a representative of the Coptic Church to the next Assembly of the Synod of Catholic Bishops, which is to be held in October.

Finding one Easter date for both western and eastern churches is said to be an urgent matter, particularly in Christian communities in North Africa and the Middle East, where Easter is observed on different dates.

Differences in Easter dates are based on differences between the Julian calendar, which eastern churches, including the Coptic one, follow, and the Gregorian calendar of western churches.

The World Council of Churches explains in a detailed article on its website how these differences came to be, and notes that past efforts have been made to try and bring the two Easters together.

"The problem is that, while the use of the astronomical calculations will mean hardly any change for those churches that use the Gregorian calendar, the Orthodox churches have had painful experiences in the past with schisms resulting from calendar reforms, and are therefore very cautious about them," WCC says.

In 2014, the western and eastern Easter dates fell on the same day, April 20. The next time the dates coincide will be in 2017 and then in 2034.

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