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Rome Fails to Woo Copts After Same-Sex Blessings Snub

Expert in relations with Eastern and Oriental churches says Copts won't re-open dialogue soon

The Vatican’s doctrine czar has returned empty-handed after a failed attempt to woo the Coptic Church, which ended dialogue after Pope Francis permitted same-sex blessings.


Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, visited Coptic Pope Tawadros II on May 22 to discuss Fiducia supplicans, the DDF’s recent declaration authorizing priests to offer non-liturgical blessings to homosexual couples.


According to a press statement from the Coptic Orthodox Church, Fernández explained that Catholicism “clearly declares that marriage is only between a man and a woman after which children are born, stressing the Catholic Church’s complete rejection of same-sex marriage.”


The cardinal indicated that he had provided a “comprehensive clarification of the declaration in a detailed letter as requested by the delegation of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Dialogue Committee with the Catholic Church, which was held in January 2024.”


However, Pope Tawadros II did not offer to end the stalemate between the two churches and re-open the dialogue the Copts suspended after Fiducia supplicans was issued.


Instead, the Coptic pope “referred to the path of love between the two Churches and the importance of dialogue, after evaluating the accomplishments of the past twenty years and the necessity of developing more effective methods and mechanisms for it.”


Archdeacon Job Serebrov, an expert in Eastern and Oriental Christianity, told Souls and Liberty that the Copts were unlikely to continue the dialogue because of the same-sex blessing issue.


“Of all the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Copts are the most vocal about Holy Tradition,” Rev. Serebrov, who has worked with Eastern and Oriental Churches for over 44 years, observed. “The Orthodox will not go beyond a certain boundary.”


“If Rome ever believes any type of dialog will lead to reunion it is deluding itself. Eastern Churches will give the West the impression of hope for this or something close and then never follow through,” Serebrov observed.


The archdeacon, who is also an attorney and a judge, elaborated:


My belief is that the Roman Catholic Church always wants to read more from Orthodox leaders statements than is really being said or agreed to. The bottom line with Orthodox is that Holy Tradition is the Rubicon no matter what and these Churches are inherently wary about the West based on hundreds of years of mistrust and theological disagreement. Remember, for the Greeks the sack of Constantinople in 1204 happened yesterday.


On March 7, 2024, the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, issued a statement against homosexual relations, explaining how the Holy Bible “in both Testaments condemns, warns, and forbids sexual practices between two people of the same sex.”


The statement noted:


As for those who choose to reconcile with their homosexual tendencies, letting go of themselves to homosexual acts, rejecting spiritual and psychological treatment, and choosing of their own free will to break God’s commandment, their condition becomes worse than the one who lives in [struggle against] adultery/fornication. Therefore, they must be warned and cut off from communion until they repent.


“The Coptic Church needs a break to review what has been achieved in the dialogue of the past two decades and what the future holds,” Anba Damian, general bishop of the Coptic Church in Germany, said. “The blessing for homosexual couples is a stumbling block to the restoration of full unity with our sister church, for which we hope.”


“It is disturbing and painful when we have to hear a position from our sister church that is not biblical and does not correspond to church teaching,” Bp. Damian told, the media of the German Bishops’ Conference, in an interview.


Damian noted that Fiducia supplicans “also affects many Catholics around the world, especially on the entire African continent” and both churches needed to “be careful not to endanger the unity of the Church.”


Bishop Damian continued:


The Catholic Church is a wonderful church: you should be proud of your culture, your constitution, your tradition. You don't have to dance to the music of the world and always express yourself in such a way that you are not attacked in the press. As churches, we must learn to say no when something is not biblical. That is how you gain the respect of others. If the church is simply identical to what is happening in the world — why do I have to come to church?


At the end of February, the Moscow Patriarchate designated the document as a “very serious departure from Christian moral norms.”


Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.

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Francis will probably accuse them of being "too rigid". Good job by the Copts.

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