Vatican Decision on Same-Sex  Blessings Strains Catholic-Coptic Relations

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Vatican Decision on Same-Sex Blessings Strains Catholic-Coptic Relations

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The Vatican’s recent authorization of the blessing of same-sex couples has ignited tensions within the Catholic Church and strained relations with the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt. The controversial move has prompted the suspension of theological dialogue between the two Christian denominations, laying bare deep-seated divisions over matters of faith and doctrine.

Released on December 18 under the title “Fiducia Supplicans,” the Vatican’s declaration has drawn criticism and apprehension from clergy and religious leaders, particularly in regions with significant Orthodox and Islamic influences. Critics argue that the decision, perceived as hasty and inadequately managed, has alienated traditional Orthodox communities and undermined interfaith relations.

Father Rafic Greiche, a prominent Catholic priest in Egypt, expressed disappointment over the Vatican’s handling of the issue, noting the declaration’s apparent disregard for the sensitivities of the Islamic world. The decision has been interpreted as a concession to Western churches, exacerbating tensions with Orthodox counterparts who uphold conservative teachings on marriage and morality.

In response to the Vatican’s declaration, the governing Holy Synod of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, led by Pope Tawadros II, suspended theological dialogue with Catholics. The synod reaffirmed its staunch opposition to all forms of homosexual relationships, citing biblical teachings and the divine order of creation as fundamental principles.

While the suspension of dialogue offers a glimmer of hope for potential reconciliation, tensions persist as both sides grapple with the implications of the Vatican’s decision. Father Romany

Shenouda, a Catholic priest from Upper Egypt, lamented the adverse impact of the declaration on interchurch and interfaith relations, cautioning against further division within the Christian community.

The decision by the Coptic Orthodox Church to suspend dialogue underscores broader concerns within Eastern Christian traditions regarding the compatibility of the Vatican’s stance with traditional teachings. The synod’s emphasis on reassessing dialogue and setting new standards underscores the gravity of the situation and the imperative for a deliberate reevaluation of the relationship between the two churches.

Despite calls for dialogue and reconciliation, the controversy surrounding the Vatican’s decision continues to reverberate within Catholic and Orthodox circles. As both sides navigate theological disparities and cultural sensitivities, the future of Catholic-Coptic relations remains uncertain, with hopes for a return to dialogue tempered by entrenched divisions and apprehensions.