Easter together

East and West in 2010

In the years 2010, 2011 and 2014, the Eastern and Western Churches celebrated Easter on the same day. It was a special coincidence since within Christianity there are two different rules regarding the use of the Gregorian calendar (Catholics and Protestants) or that of Julius Caesar (the Orthodox). These two calendars produce the same date in certain years when all Christians celebrate Easter on the same day, while in other years the dates are different. This year the date coincides. Search for ecumenism. The search for a common date for the celebration of Easter has been long and difficult, above all it has been the subject of studies for many years. A special research commission created by the Orthodox churches met in 1977 at Chambésy. Twenty years later, in 1997, the World Council of Churches , in cooperation with the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Middle East council of Churches organized a consultation in Aleppo, Syria where theologians from various Churches (Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox) worked out a proposal still known today as the “Aleppo Document”. In the document, the Churches propose that the date of Easter be calculated according to the norms of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicea. This would mean celebrating the Resurrection of Christ on the first Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox. The Aleppo Document also suggests calculating the astronomic dates using scientific methods that are as precise as possible, and to use the meridiano of Jerusalem as a base for the calculations. Latest summit in the Ukraine. Last year in Lviv in the Ukraine, an important International and ecumenical seminar took place that gathered together theologians and representatives of Christian Churches at the Ukraine Catholic University. At the end of the seminar a final communique was diffused in which the participants state that the Aleppo Document may represent “a concrete and real step” but that they are also “aware that the main problem does not concern the calculations”. “The problem”, states the document, is to be found “in the complexity of relations and in the lack of trust between the various Christian denominations caused by long divisions. This is one of the principal reasons for the difficulties in accepting the different proposals for a solution. Therefore work towards mutual under standing and reconciliation is necessary”. For these reasons, in Lviv, the Churches were invited to use the occasion of a common Easter to bring the communities closer together. In France. In Paris the Christians of the Ile-de-France set the date of Sunday, April 4 for a meeting at Place de la Défence to “announce together the Resurrection of Christ and confess their faith in a joyful and united manner”. “This year”, states the presentation of the ecumenical initiative, “a concordance of dates permits the Anglican, Armenian, Baptist, catholic, evangelical, Lutheran, Orthodox, Reformed Christians to celebrate Easter on the same day”. The Christians will be received by the Catholic bishops of the Ile-de-France, headed by the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Metropolitan Emmanuel, President of the French Conference of Orthodox Bishops, the Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Pastors: Marie-France Robert, Jean-Charles Tenreiro, Stuart Ludbrook e and the other personalities who are responsible for the Christian Churches. In Italy. “the hope for leaving behind the worries and sadness of daily life and of living an Easter of consolation, courage and strength”. These are the wishes for Easter addressed to 900,000 Romanian Orthodox faithful who, according to the estimate of the Romanian Embassy, are living in the country and who sill be celebrating Easter this coming Sunday together with the Catholic faithful. The wishes were sent out through SIR Europe by Msgr. Siluan, bishop of the Italian Diocese of the Romanian Orthodox Church. “An Easter”, he adds, “that should be perceived above all as consolation. So many of our Romanians celebrate Easter while separated from their families. What we wish for them is that they may live the grace of Resurrection, that there be the grace of consolation where there is need for consolation, of strength where weakness is felt, of healing where the soul is wounded”. The fact that this year Catholics and Orthodox celebrate Easter on the same day is for Bishop Siluan “a blessing, a Providence”. “Above all”, he adds,”it is an opportunity for the two communities to share the joy of Resurrection, and by coming closer, rediscover themselves as friends and brothers in Christ”.

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