Coptic Orthodox Church suspends dialogue with Vatican over same-sex blessings

Coptic Orthodox Church

The Coptic Orthodox Church has suspended its two-decade-long doctrinal dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church over the Vatican’s approval of same-sex blessings.

The Patriarchate of Alexandria and Coptic officials have labelled same-sex blessings as heresy.

The Holy Synod of the ancient Coptic Orthodox Church, based in Egypt, announced the suspension on March 7.

“After consulting with the sister churches of the Eastern Orthodox family” they wrote, “it was decided to suspend the theological dialogue with the Catholic Church, reevaluate the results achieved by the dialogue from its beginning 20 years ago, and establish new standards and mechanisms for the dialogue to proceed in the future.”

The Vatican’s publication of “Fiducia supplicans” was the catalyst for this decision. The document addressed blessings for couples in “irregular situations” including same-sex relationships.

“We cannot recognise that two people of the same sex form a couple” an aide to Pope Tawadros II (pictured with Pope Francis) told La Croix.

“The text is unacceptable, as is the explanation later provided by the Vatican. Pope Francis wanted to please Europeans but, for us, it is a huge heresy” the aide pointed out.

“The Bible in both Testaments condemns, warns against, and prohibits sexual practices between two people of the same sex” asserted the Orthodox Coptic bishops.

Severe setback

The suspension of dialogue is considered a severe setback in relations between Rome and Alexandria. It follows a historic public audience between Pope Tawadros II and Pope Francis less than a year ago.

“Pope Tawadros II greatly appreciates Pope Francis” said Rafic Greiche, a former spokesman for the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt. “So far, he has managed to appease bishops opposed to any reconciliation with Catholics. It will now be much more difficult in the face of a Synod that will oppose any further progress” the priest said.

While ecumenical prayer initiatives remain unaffected, the halt in dialogue could have broader implications. Many within the Coptic hierarchy have long opposed unity with the Catholic Church. Fiducia supplicans has reignited the deep-seated conflicts.

The Coptic Orthodox Church has made strides towards unity with Rome. However, these recent developments mark a significant setback in the relationship between the two churches.


Le Croix International

Catholic News Agency

CathNews New Zealand


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