The Catholic and the Coptic Pope’s common remembrance of the Coptic martyrs
Pope Francis and Patriarch Theodore II, who holds the title of Coptic Pope, led the general audience together for the first time in the history of the Church at the Vatican's St. Peter's Square on Wednesday. Pope Francis mentioned the martyrs of the Coptic Church, who are "our martyrs".
On Wednesday, Pope Francis sat beside Patriarch II. Tawadros, leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, for the traditional audience at St. Peter’s Square for the first time. The Catholic leader did not deliver his planned speech, but instead gave the floor to the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church based in Egypt.
In his address, II. Tawadros called for peace among peoples. He recalled that the Bishop of Rome and the Coptic Orthodox Pope met for the first time in over a thousand years from May 9 to 13, 1973, when Pope Paul VI received Pope Shenouda at the Vatican. The leaders of the two churches then signed a so-called joint Christological declaration. After Pope Francis was elected ten years ago, he met with II. Tawadros, and May 10 was declared the day of Coptic and Catholic friendship.
In response to the Coptic Patriarch’s speech, Pope Francis mentioned the martyrs of the Coptic Church, who are “our martyrs” – said the Pope. He referred to the twenty Coptic Christians working in Libya and their Ghanaian colleague who were beheaded in 2015 by jihadists claiming to be members of the Islamic State. The victims were declared martyrs by the Coptic Church.