Within the next decade, Christians around the world may be celebrating Easter on the same fixed day.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby announced at a news conference Friday, January15 he has been working with Roman Catholic and other church leaders across the world to fix a date for Easter.
Primates (senior archbishops) of the Anglican Communion, who met January 11-15, gave their support for the idea, said Welby.
He hoped, Welby said, that a date for the holy day would be fixed in the next five to 10 years.
“I would love to see it before I retire,” he said. “Equally, I think the first attempt to do this was in the tenth century, so it may take a little while,” he added, to the laughter of some in attendance.
Welby said he has let the British government know of the plan, since the date of Easter “affects almost everything you do in the spring and summer,” including school holidays.
The talks, he said, were proposed by Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church. Last summer, Pope Francis said he supported Pope Tawadros’s idea of setting a fixed date for the holy day.
As things stand now, the date of Easter depends on the phases of the moon, and varies among different churches. The method for setting the date was agreed on at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. According to this method, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the 14th day of the Paschal full moon—the first full moon after the spring equinox. In the Gregorian calendar used in the West, this means between March 22 and April 25.
However, many Eastern churches use a different calendar, so that the Eastern Orthodox Easter usually falls a week after the western Easter.
According to a story in The Guardian newspaper, discussions to fix a date for Easter are being held by representatives of the Roman Catholic and Coptic popes as well as the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch, in addition to those of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Easter Sunday this year will fall on March 27.
Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.
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