© 2009, Father Kevin Michael Laughery, Holy Cross Parish, Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, USA, Roman Catholic Church

One Christian faith; one Easter date?

From the London Catholic weekly The Tablet, March 29 - April 5, 1997:

An Easter date for all Christians? Fresh proposals for establishing a date for Easter common to all the Churches of East and West have been made at a major ecumenical gathering in Syria.

The meeting, held earlier in March in Aleppo, was organised by the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches. Representatives were asked to begin consultations in their respective countries over whether a new approach to dating Easter "based on astronomical science" could be found.

At present, the Eastern and Western Churches agree that Easter should be celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. The Orthodox calculation is based on the old (Julian) calendar, however, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian version used in the West. In consequence, the Orthodox Easter can fall either on the same Sunday as in the West, or else one week or five weeks later.

Past moves to adopt the Gregorian calendar in the East have always been fiercely resisted. But the new proposal is judged not to involve asking the Orthodox to follow the West "because by 2019, both the Gregorian and Julian reckonings of Easter will be astronomically incorrect", according to a WCC spokeswoman. Both traditions were being asked to be guided "by more accurate calculations".

She added that "astronomical observations depend upon the position on earth which is taken as a point of reference. Therefore, it is proposed that the basis for reckoning be the meridian of Jerusalem, the place of Christ's death and resurrection."

The World Council of Churches' report on this consultation

A New York Times report about the same issue

And here I had been under the impression that Hallmark Cards determined the date of Easter.

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© 2009, Father Kevin Michael Laughery, Holy Cross Parish, Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, USA, Roman Catholic Church