My beloved brother… His Holiness Pope Francis
Your Graces … Ladies and Gentlemen
Christ is risen … Truly He is risen.
I would like to extend my congratulations as well as that of all the members of the Holy Synod and all the institutions of the Coptic Orthodox Church for the tenth anniversary of your divine selection as Pope and Bishop of Rome. I value all that you have done during this period in service to the whole world in all fields and I pray that Christ keeps your Holiness in full health and grants you the blessing of a long life.
I now look at this place and go back to my memory ten years on the same date, remembering your precious love in receiving me and the delegation of the Coptic Church on my first visit to you, and how we spent with you a blessed time filled with the fraternal love that you showered us with.
This love, which has become a motto, we celebrate annually on the “Day of Brotherly Love” and we talk by phone to renew it every year. It is a day that embodies the Christian spirit and the love that unites us in the service of God and in the service of our brothers and sisters in humanity, to fulfill the words of Saint John the Beloved. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
We have chosen love even if we are going against the current of the greedy and selfish world. We have accepted the challenge of love that Christ asks of us. We will be true Christians and the world will become more humane, so that the whole world will know that God is love and this is His highest attribute.
This date also coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of Pope Shenouda III’s visit to Pope Paul VI, and this makes it more important and influential on the relations between our churches. I can’t forget to thank you with utter joy for your precious visit to us in Egypt in 2017, and how it was a blessing to all of Egypt when you said: “We are not aloneon this interesting journey, which – as in life – is not always easy and clear, through which the Lord exhorts us to move forward, and pushes us to be from now on a living picture of the “heavenly Jerusalem”.
As we walk together on the path of life, keeping in mind His promise, “And this is the promise that He has promised us – eternal life.” (1 John 2:25) We coexist in it and integrate together, supported by prayer according to this promise, no matter how different our roots and affiliations are. We are united by the love of Christ that dwells within us and a cloud of fathers, apostles and saints surrounds us and guides us.
We have come to you from the land in which St. Mark the Apostle preached
His Seat was established in Alexandria
To be one of the oldest Apostolic Sees in the world.
The land of Egypt…… history and civilization. They say about her that she is unique by nature, her father is history and her mother is geography.
I have come to you from the Coptic Church, which was established in ancient times, through a prophecy in the book of the prophet Isaiah “In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border.“ Then it was sanctified by the Holy Family’s visit which blessed her land east and west, north and south.
Egypt…the land from which Christian monasticism spread and was established with its saints Anthony, Macarius and Pachomius, inspiring the School of Alexandria, the beacon of theology in history!
It was and still is a sacred place for prayer before God.
We believe that it is preserved not only in the hands of God, but also in His heart.
I stand here where the apostles Paul and Peter preached, and I rejoice to meet in this great edifice and contemplate these pillars that hold it up and I remember the promise of the Lord to the Angel of the Church of Philadelphia: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more” (Revelation 3:12). And I ask you all to hold fast to this promise, to overcome the evil of the world with all its weaknesses as the fathers taught us,
And we must live up to our responsibility… Living as the sweet fragrance of Christ to this world and gather for its peace.
In this world, we walk as He walked, we chant with David the Psalmist in his psalm, “Uphold my steps in Your paths, that my footsteps may not slip” (Psalms 17:5) and we call out to the whole world for the peace that transcends all understanding, praying that it will descend in every place and become the priority of the leaders and nations.
I pray with you today and I have every hope that God will hear our prayers