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Churches Discuss Date of Easter

Posted on: April 11, 1997 11:03 AM
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Churches around the world will be asked to cooperate in an international effort to put an end, from the year 2001, to the 400-year-old split over the date of the most important celebration in the Christian calendar, Easter.

At present, Easter is usually celebrated on two different dates. This year, for example, most Protestants and Roman Catholics celebrate Easter on 30 March, while most Orthodox, along with some Protestants and Catholics, hold their Easter services almost a month later, on 27 April. The different datings are the result of disagreement over reform of the calendar by Pope Gregory XIII 400 years ago.

At a meeting held in Aleppo, Syria, from 5 to 10 March, sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), representatives of the world's main Christian traditions agreed on what the WCC described as "an ingenious proposal to set a common date for Easter".

The consultation agreed that the continuing use by the Churches of the principles of dating Easter adopted at the Council of Nicea, 325AD (the Sunday after the first full moon after the March equinox) seems to be the best way to unity in this matter. Differences of dating have occurred because Churches have followed different calculations of the equinox and the full moon. Accepting precise modern astronomical determinations will assist the Churches to find a common date.

A statement from the meeting will be sent to the Churches for their consideration.