As part of the first pastoral visit of Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, an official vespers service was held in his honour at the Coptic Cathedral of Saint George in Hertfordshire on 6th May.
In his welcome address, Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, thankedPope Tawadros for his resilience and witness to ‘the life of Christ that is vibrant and alive in the midst of an often-increasing darkness’ amid suffering caused by terrorist attacks targeting Coptic churches in Egypt.
Addressing the ecumenical guests, Pope Tawadros said: ‘It is a great honour for me to be here today and a blessing for us all to gather together. This is a fulfilment of our Christian calling, which is to keep the “unity of spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).’
He added: ‘We were all blessed by the visit of Pope Francis to Egypt, and these visits, along with many others from sister Churches, make for continued good relations between our Churches, and also shed light on the rich history and ongoing role that Egypt has to play.’
Speaking more broadly on spiritual matters, he said that ‘the world today has become more hungry for love,’ as technology overshadows every aspect of humanity: ‘This dynamic has contributed to the increased violence and terrorism we experience in our world today. Together we must work to present the love of Christ for everyone, in any place, at any time. Therefore, we in Egypt depend on the words of Saint Paul, who instructs us that “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Our relations, whether inside or outside Egypt, must depend on the notion that “love never fails” and we must present love in action.’
Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Co-Chair of the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum, represented the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. He was accompanied by Bishop John Wilson who represented the Diocese of Westminster.