Catholic, Coptic Orthodox popes offer joint Vatican blessing

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis and the Coptic Orthodox pope have delivered a joint blessing from St. Peter’s Square. The blessing Wednesday is a significant ecumenical gesture to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic meeting of their predecessors. Patriarch Tawadros II of Alexandria joined Francis on the stage for the entirety of Francis’ weekly general audience. Francis recalled that the occasion marked the 50th anniversary of the meeting of St. Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III. Tawadros’ visit will culminate with another ecumenically important event when he celebrates an Orthodox Coptic liturgy Sunday at Francis’ cathedral in Rome, the Basilica of St. John Lateran.