Pope Tawadros II addressed around 1000 Australian Coptic youth in an event on Friday where he spoke of the importance of ‘fight[ing] for what is right’ on the issue of same sex marriage, ahead of the forthcoming national Australian plebiscite on the issue.
“Family equals ‘father and mother,” the patriarch said to Coptic youth on Friday night at the International Convention Centre in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
The comments follow earlier ones Pope Tawadros II made within the first few hours of his arrival in Australia last Wednesday.
“According to the Holy Bible, when you read either in the Old Testament or the New Testament, there is no – at all – same-sex marriage,” the Pope had said during an airport press conference last Wednesday.
“Therefore, this marriage is completely refused from the Christian faith.”
During Friday’s event, the Pope answered audience questions and was presented with a gift from Bishop Daniel, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Sydney and the affiliated regions.
The event saw Pope Tawadros II speak of the importance of Egypt to ‘stability in the Middle East’ and of his ongoing work to foster ecumenical dialogue.
“The stability of Egypt means the stability of the Middle East and the Mediterranean,” the visiting patriarch said.
“We consider Egypt the mother of the world and Australia a very very young sister.”
Among the other issues that featured in the Pope’s commentary was Egypt’s economic situation.
“We ask for your prayers for our churches within Egypt and the country’s economic problems which affect such a large section of its people,” said the Pope.
“I’m sure this will be solved in a very few years, that the situation will be good and that Egypt will shine.”
Recounting his extensive and wide-ranging meetings with other Christian leaders in the last five years, Pope Tawadros emphasized the fundamental importance of ‘speaking the truth in love.’
“Christian unity according to my opinion is like the cross, it must start firstly with love, love relations with all the churches and extended hands to all the churches,” Pope Tawadros II said.
“We must build this love relation with all the churches because we are one of the oldest churches in the world. Christianity started in Egypt in the year 58 of the first century.”
The Pope, who took office on 18 November 2012, has met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Constantinople and Patriarch Bartholomew. In May this year, Pope Kirill of Moscow and All Russia awarded him the ‘Award of the Unity of Orthodox People’.
Pope Tawadros II is in Sydney until Monday and will be in Canberra on September 6 and Melbourne from September 7-13.
The Pope is not the only high-level Egyptian to be visiting Australia this month. Nabila Makram, Egyptian Minister for Emigration and Youth, is expected to visit Australia between 9-15 September along with a delegation from the Egyptian parliament and a number of Egyptian youth.
Footage of the Pope’s address on Friday can be viewed here.