The declaration of a common Baptism between Rome and Alexandria

April 28, 2017                                                                                                                                 The Memorial of Saint Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort

I wanted to interrupt my discussion of the great Apparition of October 13, 1917 at Fatima to share with you a bit of good news that just came out of Egypt during the last few hours: the Holy Father Pope Francis, Successor of Saint Peter, has signed a joint declaration with His Holiness Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, in Cairo recognizing for the first time in much more than almost sixteen centuries that there is a common Baptism shared between the Church of Rome and the Church of Alexandria.

The whole declaration can be read here, but the operative language runs like this:

The mystery of Jesus who died and rose out of love lies at the heart of our journey towards full unity.  Once again, the martyrs are our guides.  In the early Church the blood of the martyrs was the seed of new Christians.  So too in our own day, may the blood of so many martyrs be the seed of unity among all Christ’s disciples, a sign and instrument of communion and peace for the world.

In obedience to the work of the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies the Church, keeps her throughout the ages, and leads her to full unity – that unity for which Jesus Christ prayed:

      Today we, Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II, in order to please the heart of the Lord Jesus, as well as that of our sons and daughters in the faith, mutually declare that we will not repeat the baptism that had been administered in either of our Churches for any person who wishes to join the other.  This we confess in obedience to the Holy Scriptures and the faith of the three Ecumenical Councils assembled in Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus.

       We ask God our Father to guide us, in the times and by the means that the Holy Spirit will choose, to full unity in the mystical Body of Christ.

While the distance between this declaration and full Communion between the ancient Sees of Saint Mark and of Saint Peter is known only to God, this is good news.  Good news in a darkening world.  Please include a prayer of thanksgiving to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is our common Mother, sometime today.  And don’t forget that her title Mother of God that we now say so easily and take so much for granted had once, a very long time ago, to be defended against a monstrous attack waged against her; and her most stalwart defenders in that troubled time came from the Church of Alexandria.  And the Mother of God, the great Θεοτόκος, never forgets a good turn done to her, whatever disasters the intervening years, decades, centuries, or millennia bring.

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