Pope Francis said he supports the idea of setting a fixed date for Easter Sunday, which for centuries has moved back and forth according to the lunar calendar.
Easter and the Holy Week that precedes it is rooted in the Jewish Passover and fixed on the first full moon, which falls on the first Sunday after the spring equinox, March 21.
“We have to come to an agreement” for a fix date for Easter, Pope Francis said during the Second Retreat for Priests in the Basilica of St. John Lateran on June 12, as quoted by the National Catholic Register.
The Orthodox Churches normally celebrate Easter a week after the Catholics.
According to the NCR report, Pope Francis said jokingly that today Christians could ask one another: “When did Christ rise from the dead? My Christ rose today and yours next week.”
He also joked that, if people follow Gregorian calendars that Orthodox Christians abide by, “in 60 years we run the risk of end up celebrating Easter in August," Pope Francis also said.
Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II wrote to the Vatican ambassador in Egypt in May suggesting a common date for Easter, NCR said.
The proposal has received the blessing of priests, bishops and cardinals, even though some are pointing to the lack of unity within the Orthodox churches.
"The Orthodox reality is divided, even with deep tensions and, at this time, it will not be easy," said Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
“It would be a beauty to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord together," he added, according to El País.
Historians and expert agree that a common date for Easter would encourage “reconciliation between the Christian churches.”
[“It] would increase the importance of the central feast of the faith in a moment when changes seem to be suddenly coming throughout the world,” wrote historian Lucetta Scaraffia in the Vatican daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.