‘A gift of unity’: Pope Francis open to setting common date for Easter

  • Written by:

Andre Mitchell
Pope Francis (R) talks with Ignatius Aphrem II, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, during a meeting at the Vatican, on June 19, 2015.
Will Christians all over the world be celebrating Easter at the same time soon?
Pope Francis recently expressed openness to setting a common date for the Feast of the Risen Lord.

During the World Retreat of Priests at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome attended by clergy from five continents, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church said “we have to come to an agreement” for a common date on Easter.

In one of the light moments during the global gathering of priests last June 12, the Pope said Christians should be more united in celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

“When did Christ rise from the dead? My Christ rose today, and yours next week,” the Pontiff quipped during the event.

Turning serious, Pope Francis said such disunity in celebrating the Risen Christ is a scandal.

Pope Francis’ openness to setting a common date for Easter is given even more perspective by historian Lucetta Scaraffia in an article published on L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s daily newspaper.

In the said article, Scaraffia explained that the Roman Catholic Church leader may be open to this proposal to pave the way for “reconciliation between the Christian churches.”

She even called a common date for Easter “as a gift of unity with the other Christian churches.”

Scaraffia further wrote that allowing all Christians to simultaneously celebrate Easter “would increase the importance of the central feast of the faith in a moment when changes seem to be suddenly coming throughout the world.”

At present, Roman Catholics celebrate Easter a week earlier than Orthodox churches.

Some leaders of the Orthodox churches have also earlier pondered on the possibility of setting a common date for Easter.

Last month, for instance, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II wrote to the papal nuncio in Egypt proposing that this significant Christian celebration be observed on a common date.