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Orthodox and Catholics could celebrate Easter on same date after 440 years

In a recent interview in Turkey, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople explained that the Orthodox and Catholics are working together to unify the date of Easter.

Until the 16th century, both churches celebrated Easter on the same date, placing it on the Sunday after the spring equinox. 

But in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII instituted a new calendar that replaced the old Julian one created by Julius Caesar. All Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar, while the Orthodox continued using the Julian. 

The different calendars meant the spring equinox were celebrated on two different days. In 2015, Pope Francis spoke about working together to choose one date for the two churches.

June 12, 2015

The Catholic Church is open, since the pontificate of Pope Paul VI, to set a fixed date, and to waive the first solstice after the full moon of March.

The Orthodox and Catholic leaders are working to unify the dates by 2025. It marks the 1,700th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea. The Pope recently proposed this year to the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, stated that it will not be easy. But he said that it is a wish “very dear to Pope Francis and also to the Coptic Pope Tawadros.”

On the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle on November 30, the Church of Constantinople will host a congress focused on the Council of Nicea and on resolving the Easter dilemma.