For immediate use
28 May 2013
The Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office
His Holiness Pope Tawadros II was awarded the title of ‘Defender of Pro Oriente’ by His Eminence Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna during a ceremony held by the Pro Oriente foundation in Vienna’s Archbishop’s Palace. The ceremony marks the tenth anniversary of the official recognition of the Coptic Orthodox Church by the Austrian parliament.
The Pro Oriente Foundation was established in 1964 by Cardinal Franz König (1905-2004) in order to maintain the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.
The award comes just weeks after Pope Tawadros visited His Holiness Pope Francis, 40 years after his predecessor, His Holiness the late Pope Shenouda III, who signed the official Christological agreement with the late Pope Paul VI.
In his address, Pope Tawadros said:
‘Unity is the norm and essence of our Christian identity and character, and separation is the exception to that norm’
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, accompanying His Holiness in Austria, said:
'We have seen yet another historic event as this award comes only weeks after His Holiness Pope Tawadros was received by His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican. This visit, among those previous, indicates the firm commitment on all parts toward a realised unity and continued ecumenical dialogue and relations.'
During his 12-day visit to Austria, Pope Tawadros will consecrate five Coptic churches, deliver numerous sermons, and on 28 May 2013, meet with Federal President Heinz Fischer at Hofburg Palace. On Saturday 1 June, His Holiness will pray the Divine Liturgy in St Mary Cathedral in celebration of the great Coptic feast ‘The entry of the Holy Family in Egypt’. On Sunday 2nd June Pope Tawadros will visit the Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Efrem in the 13th District of Vienna before returning to Cairo.