Middle Eastern church leaders meeting in Rome have called for efforts to establish a common date for Easter and Christmas, as a step towards greater communion between Christians in the region.
In all Christian traditions, the date for Easter changes each year, based on the first full moon after the Spring equinox. But the date is often is not shared because of variations in calendars. The Orthodox Church uses the older Julian calendar, while the Catholic Church uses the Gregorian calendar.
The Syrian Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, told participants at the Middle East Synod that the common date for Easter is a "general request of all Christians of the Middle East." He said that the Synod was the time and place to give attention to the issue, study it and "translate it into reality."
The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation announced that it was also taking steps to resolve the issue. On 1 October, in a statement reported by CNS, it said: "For the mission of the Church a common celebration would support the unity we already share and help to build it further in the future."
Currently, dates differ by more than a month in their celebration of Easter, but every once in a while they coincide. In 2011, 2014 and 2017 the dates will be shared, for this reason, the Consultation stated: "time is of the essence."
Source: CNS/VIS/Vatican Radio