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Another Forthcoming Defect of Communication in the Vatican? After the Anglicans, Orthodox Copts Will Celebrate “Mass” in the Pope’s Cathedral

Orthodox Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II will visit the city of Rome, from May 9-14, 2023, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first meeting between a Pope and a Coptic Patriarch. According to I-MEDIA, the leader of some 10 million Orthodox Coptic Christians in Egypt will accompany the Holy Father during the Audience of Wednesday, May 10 and he will also address those gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, on the occasion of the Pontiff’s usual General Audience. 

May 10 is considered both by the Catholic Church as well as the Coptic Orthodox Church as the “Day of Coptic-Catholic Friendship.” It won’t be the first time that a Patriarch, who is not in communion with the Pope, is in an Audience of the Pope (It happened in 20008 with Armenian Patriarch Kakerin II, although at the time only Benedict XVI spoke).

However, what is outstanding in Patriarch Tawadros II’s agenda is the fact that a Coptic Orthodox “Mass” is planned in the Cathedral of Rome, of which the Pope is the Bishop and, consequently, Titular of the See. Moreover, the “Mass” will be with the Christian community of that Confession. It won’t be the first time that a non-Catholic celebrates in the Cathedral of the Pope and Mother of all Catholic churches. Neither does one have to go far back in history. 

On Tuesday, April 18, an Anglican Bishop held an Anglican “Mass” there, with a public apology issued afterwards by the Vicar of the Cathedral’s Archpriest, Monsignor Guerino Di Tora, Chapterhouse Vicar who said it was a “defect of communication.” 

“The Lateran Council, in the person of His Excellency Monsignor Guerino Di Tora, Chapterhouse Vicar, expresses his profound regret for what happened last Tuesday, April 18, in the interior of the Basilica of Saint John, in Rome. In fact, a group of some 50 presbyters, accompanied by their Bishop, all belonging to the Anglican Communion, celebrated in the main altar of Rome’s Cathedral, contravening the canonical rules. Monsignor Di Tora also explained that the lamentable episode was due to a defect of communication.”

In an interview with I-MEDIA, Dominican Hyacinthe Destivelle, of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, who issued the note regarding Patriarch Tawadros II’s agenda, said: “Sunday, May 14, will also be a historic day, given that the Patriarch will celebrate a Mass in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran for the Coptic faithful. It will be the first time that a non-Catholic celebrates in the Pope’s Cathedral. I believe the Basilica will be  full, because there is a very great and dynamic Coptic diaspora in the region of Rome and in Italy, perhaps 100,000 faithful.”