A Visitor From Ethiopia

Abune Mathias I, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, visited Pope Francis today.

Pope Francis today met with His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church:

During the meeting the bishop of Rome emphasized that the patriarch’s visit strengthens the fraternal bonds that already unite both churches. He mentioned as milestones of the common path towards unity His Holiness Abune Paulos’s encountered with St. John Paul II in 1993 and with Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, who invited him to participate in the Synod of Bishops for Africa as was common practice in the early church for representatives to be sent to the synods of other churches. Likewise, a delegation from the Holy See was present at the 2012 funeral of Patriarch Abune Paulos.

Moreover, as Francis explained, since 2004 the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches have deepened their communion through theological dialogue in the International Joint Commission, which over the years has analyzed the fundamental concept of the churches’ communion understood as participation in the communion between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many things have been found in common: one faith, one baptism, one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and many elements of the monastic traditions and the liturgy. “What unites us,” the pope said, “is greater than what divides us.”

The meeting comes at a time when Ethiopia is facing tremendous challenges. As we’ve reported in our magazine, the country is undergoing rapid urbanization and contending with the worst drought in decades. To learn more about the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church — and its rich history in Africa — check out our profile from the May 2010 edition of ONE.

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