Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has issued a plea for Eastern- and Western-rite Christians to come together and celebrate Easter jointly, as reported by Catholic Culture.

Expressing his hopes for unity, the Patriarch suggested that an agreement on a common date for Easter could be reached as early as next year.

We extend a heartfelt greeting of love to all Christians around the world who celebrate Holy Easter today,” the Ecumenical Patriarch said on March 31.

“We beseech the Lord of Glory that the forthcoming Easter celebration next year [April 20 on both calendars] will not merely be a fortuitous occurrence, but rather the beginning of a unified date for its observance by both Eastern and Western Christianity.”

This year, Easter fell on March 31 according to the Gregorian calendar used by Catholics and will occur on May 5 according to the Julian calendar used by Orthodox.

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In the Orthodox Church, Easter hinges on the Jewish festival of Passover and takes place following the first full moon after Passover, as in the Easter story, Jesus celebrates the Passover meal (the Last Supper) before his death.

Passover is a spring festival, so it typically begins on the night of a full moon after the northern vernal equinox (the 15th day of the month of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar).

Under the Gregorian calendar used by Catholics and Protestants, churches established Easter to be held on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after the northern vernal equinox – regardless of when Passover falls.

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The Catholic Culture report highlights that 2025 will mark the 1,700th anniversary of the convening of the First Ecumenical Synod in Nicaea, which formulated the rules for determining the date of Easter.

Bartholomew has long considered the agreement on a common Easter date as crucial, particularly in preparation for this significant anniversary.

“Among its pivotal discussions was the matter of establishing a common timeframe for the Easter festivities. We are optimistic, as there is goodwill and willingness on both sides. Because, indeed, it is a scandal to celebrate separately the unique event of the one Resurrection of the One Lord!” the Patriarch said.

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For over a century various proposals have been suggested among churches for a unified date. As recently as January 2016, the Anglican Communion, Coptic Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church considered agreeing on a common, universal date for Easter, while also simplifying the calculation of that date, with either the second or third Sunday in April being popular choices.

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