Thursday, 19 March 2015

Engagements in Washington DC 17-18 March 2015


HG Bishop Angaelos met with a number of state representatives and officials in Washington DC and spoke at the National Press Club and the Hudson Institute on 17-18 March regarding the state of Christians in Egypt and the broader Middle East.
   
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom spoke to an audience of journalists, government representatives, NGO’s and media professionals at the National Press Club in Washington DC on ‘Sensitivity rather than sensationalism in media reporting’. After his address he responded to questions as part of a panel made up of Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos foundation, Robert A. Destro, Professor of Law and founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Law & Religion at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C, Thomas Farr, Director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Journalist for the National Review, Kathryn Jean Lopez, and Nermien Riad of Coptic Orphans. In his address Bishop Angaelos shed light on the dangers of sensational reporting, and noted the power of journalism in influencing public opinion, generating reactions and directly impacting lives.

Praising journalists for their response to the brutal murder of 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians in Libya, His Grace said:

“The Coptic community felt encouraged by the sensitive media coverage of those who were killed in Libya. Their martyrdom was a turning point for the world, and after this atrocity we must realise that news coverage is not merely about headlines, ratings, or statistics, it is about lives.”

He contrasted this with past coverage of events such as the burning of over 100 Churches and places of Christian ministry in Egypt in August 2013 where mainstream media was slow to respond. He went on to say,

“It is important that journalists do all they can to ensure that individuals and communities do not feel forgotten, disregarded or insignificant. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to covering the Middle East, and it is important that the media is not selective in reporting atrocities.”

Later in the day His Grace gave a keynote address on the ‘Prospects for Christians in the Path of Persecution’ at the Hudson Institute. The session was chaired by Nina Shea, Director of the Centre for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute and Sam Tadros, Senior Fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute made a response to the address by His Grace. The panel then responded to questions from the audience, who were made up of government representatives, media professionals, and NGO’s.

In his address Bishop Angaelos spoke of the increasing intolerance and violence facing indigenous Christian communities in the Middle East and the danger of the current model of extremism spreading across the region and beyond. He spoke of the tendency to generalise the situation facing Christians in the Middle East, saying:

“The answer is not to empty the Middle East of its Christians nor to force them to remain in the region to maintain a presence, but to seek what they desire and enable them to fulfil their own choices, which will vary depending on many factors including where they live and what their experience is.

We must realise that many Christians do not desire to leave their homelands because they are the indigenous people of the region, so let us look at the Middle East within its own context and not impose Western models.”

His Grace concluded with reassuring words of Scripture relating to the state of Christians in the Middle East, saying: ‘We are hard-pressed but not crushed, persecuted but never forsaken’ (paraphrased from 2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

In response Sam Tadros spoke of the importance of safeguarding the rights of Christians in the Middle East due to the impact their presence has on the region, saying:

“When we speak about the rights and persecution of Christians it is not because we care about their presence because we are Christian, but because the fate of Christians is tied to the whole region itself…the Christian presence has also been a valued bridge between the East and the West.”

As part of his visit to Washington, His Grace also met with Melissa Rogers, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. His Grace also attended a Congressional Hearing after which he met with Ambassador Saperstein, the State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.


Bishop Angaelos’ engagements on 17 March included attending a Congressional Breakfast on Capitol Hill and meeting with Co-Chairs of the Middle East Religious Minorities Caucus, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, and Congressdwoman Anna G. Eshoo. His Grace also met other members of the Caucus, including Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, Congressman Dave Trott, and Congressman Tim Walberg.

During his visit Bishop Angaelos prayed a vespers service at St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church and preached on the life of the Cross and the recent martyrdom of 21 Coptic men in Libya. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

HRH The Prince of Wales and The Archbishop of Canterbury support appeal for families of those brutally murdered in Libya

Press Release
For immediate use
6 March 2015

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe) 
Media and Communications Office


His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury offer their support for the ‘When Left Behind’ appeal launched by His Grace Bishop Angaelos for the families of Coptic Christians brutally murdered in Libya in February 2015

6 March 2015
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales wrote personal letters of condolence to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, and His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom following the brutal murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya and subsequently made a generous contribution towards the #WhenLeftBehind appeal, which will support the families in Egypt of those murdered in Libya. The Prince of Wales has continuously expressed his concern regarding the current challenges facing Christians in some Middle-Eastern nations and visited the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage in December 2013.
The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury also offered his condolences to Bishop Angaelos during his personal visit to the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre on 19 February 2015, and endorsed the appeal with a video message. The full appeal video can be seen HERE.
Bishop Angaelos launched the 'When Left Behind' appeal at a memorial service in London on 18 February 2015, where he spoke of the immense courage, strength and dignity shown by those who lost their lives in Libya, saying:
“As we mourn with the families of those who died we also rejoice in the faithful conviction, strength, dignity and bravery of these men; these fathers, brothers, uncles and sons who will never be forgotten.”
Bishop Angaelos invites all to contribute to the ‘When Left Behind’ appeal, saying:
“These young men were bread winners for their families and their loss will not only rob them of the joy of their presence but will leave a significant financial void in an already impoverished community. I am thankful to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Honourable David Cameron and so many more who have already expressed their support and solidarity with the families who are left behind and with the Coptic faithful around the world.”
DONATE via www.JustGiving.com/WhenLeftBehind or TEXT ‘COPT21 £(amount)’ to 70070.
The names of the young men killed in Libya are:
  1. Milad Makeen Zaky
  2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
  3. Maged Soliman Shehata
  4. Youssef Shukry Younan
  5. Kirollos Boshra Fawzy
  6. Bishoy Astafanous Kamel
  7. Samuel Astafanous Kamel
  8. Malak Ibrahim Sinyout
  9. Tawadros Youssef Tawadros
  10. Gerges Milad Sinyout
  11. Mina Fayez Aziz
  12. Hany Abdel Mesih Salib
  13. Samuel Alham Wilson
  14. Ezzat Boshra Naseef
  15. Luka Nagaty Anis
  16. Gaber Mounir Adly
  17. Essam Baddar Samir
  18. Malak Farag Abrahim
  19. Sameh Salah Farouk
  20. Gerges Samir Megally
  21. Mathew Ayairga (from Ghana)

For more information about the appeal please contact
Advocacy@CopticCentre.com

*Ends*

Friday, 20 February 2015

Bishop Angaelos attends swearing in ceremony in Washington for Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom

For immediate use
20 February 2015

​Coptic Orthodox Church UK

Media and Communications Office



Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

Bishop Angaelos attends swearing in ceremony of new Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom, Rabbi David Saperstein in Washington DC
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom met with Ambassador Saperstein during his swearing in ceremony at the State Department. In his inaugural address, the Ambassador mentioned the recent brutal murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, highlighting the need to protect religious freedom for all in the region.


Prior to the ceremony, Bishop Angaelos met with the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wuerl, Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos foundation, members of the United States Commission for Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and various representatives of the State Department. This meeting, hosted by In Defense of Christians, incorporated a press conference and round table meeting addressing responses to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. 

During the press conference Cardinal Wuerl expressed his concern for, and solidarity with, the Coptic Orthodox Community in light of the murder of Coptic Christians in Libya, saying:

“I am here to say to Bishop Angaelos that we are raising our voice with you…and I thank him for being a part of this important conversation.”

In response Bishop Angaelos said:


“The truth must be spoken, and people of faith must speak to protect the rights of all regardless of their religious affiliation. As we attempt to respond to the atrocities that are facing various Christian and faith communities in the Middle East and across the world we must ensure that we do not allow hatred to enter our hearts.”

Katrina Lantos Swett, members of USCIRF, representatives of the State Department, and Nermine Riad of Coptic Orphans, were also present during the press conference.


Bishop Angaelos also attended a round-table meeting and discussion arranged by Nina Shea Director of the Centre for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute on nuanced approaches to religious freedom and engagement.




Thursday, 19 February 2015

Launch of appeal for families of Coptic Christians brutally murdered in Libya


Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
                                   Media and Communications Office



Launch of ‘When Left Behind’ appeal for the families of Coptic Christians brutally murdered in Libya in February 2015.

19 February 2015
His Grace Bishop Angaelos General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom launched the #WhenLeftBehind appeal for the families of those brutally murdered in Libya at a memorial service in St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Kensington on 18 February 2015.
The service, led by Bishop Angaelos, was attended by clergy and congregation from the Coptic Orthodox community across the United Kingdom as well as His Excellency Mr Nasser Kamel the Ambassador of Egypt, the Consul General Dr Hesham Khalil, and numerous official and ecumenical guests.
During his sermon, Bishop Angaelos spoke of the immense courage, strength and dignity shown by those who lost their lives in Libya, saying:
“As we mourn with the families of those who died we also rejoice in the faithful conviction, strength, dignity and bravery of these men; these fathers, brothers, uncles and sons who will never be forgotten.”
At the end of the service, Bishop Angaelos expressed his thanks to the British Prime Minister, The Right Honourable David Cameron, and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, The Right Honourable Eric Pickles, for their personal calls expressing their condolences. He also thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby for his personal visit to the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in the United Kingdom earlier that day to express his support, and His Eminence the Cardinal of Westminster, Vincent Nichols for his personal message of condolence.
Bishop Angaelos also thanked all those who expressed their support and solidarity with the Coptic community over the past week, and invited all to contribute to the ‘When Left Behind’ appeal, saying:
“These young men were bread winners for their families and their loss will not only rob them of the joy of their presence but will leave a significant financial void in an already impoverished community.”
DONATE via www.JustGiving.com/CopticOrthodoxChurch or TEXT ‘COPT21 £(amount)’ to 70070.
The names of the young men killed in Libya are:
  1. Milad Makeen Zaky
  2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
  3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
  4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
  5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
  6. Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
  7. Somaily Astafanus Kamel
  8. Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
  9. Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
  10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
  11. Mina Fayez Aziz
  12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
  13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
  14. Samuel Alham Wilson
  15. Worker from Awr village
  16. Ezat Bishri Naseef
  17. Loqa Nagaty
  18. Gaber Munir Adly
  19. Esam Badir Samir
  20. Malak Farag Abram
  21. Sameh Salah Faruq

For more information about the appeal please contact
Advocacy@CopticCentre.com

*Ends*

Monday, 16 February 2015

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks with HG Bishop Angaelos to offer condolences following the death of Coptic Christians in Libya


For immediate use
16 February 2015
​Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

The Right Honourable David Cameron Prime Minister spoke by telephone with His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom to offer his condolences following the death of Coptic Christians murdered in Libya.


The Prime Minister issued a statement today expressing concern over the tragic and brutal loss of life in Libya, deeming the attacks as “barbaric and inhumane”. During the conversation the issues of dehumanisation and the importance of maintaining human dignity were discussed.

Commenting on the conversation, Bishop Angaelos said:

“It was gracious of the Prime Minister to call personally in the midst of his numerous responsibilities expressing his condolences to myself and our community. I felt that this was both a personal and powerful gesture, demonstrating his concern and sadness at the senseless loss felt by families and communities in Egypt.

As discussed with the Prime Minister, I will be passing these sentiments to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, our Holy Synod and the Coptic Orthodox community here in Britain.”

Following the attacks in Libya, Bishop Angaelos issued a statement saying, “We cannot remember our Coptic brothers without also remembering all those who have lost their lives in equally brutal circumstances: journalists, aid workers, medical staff, religious leaders, a young pilot and communities that are considered incompatible with a fringe and intolerant element.” The full statement can be read via www.CopticMediaUK.com

*Ends*



Recent news interviews with His Grace Bishop Angaelos regarding the brutal murder of Coptic Christians in Libya can be found via www.Youtube.com/CopticMediaUK

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos following the brutal murder of Coptic Christians in Libya

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom following the brutal murder of Coptic Christians in Libya


15 February 2015 

It is with deep feelings of sorrow and pain that we received confirmation earlier this evening of the brutal murder of Coptic Christians in Libya at the hands of Daesh (IS). While every life is sacred and every death tragic, the particular brutality demonstrated in this instance and others like it shows not only a disregard for life but a gross misunderstanding of its sanctity and equal value in every person.

Our prayers are particularly with the families of these young Coptic men, who were fathers, brothers, sons and friends of many within their tight-knit rural communities, in which their absence will cause significant loss and sorrow. Their families are not only deprived of breadwinners who had travelled to Libya to support them, but of the joy that they bring when they return. 

While it may seem illogical or incomprehensible, we also pray for those who have carried out these horrific crimes, that the value of God's creation and human life may become more evident to them, and in this realisation, that the wider effects of pain brought by this and other acts of brutality may be realised and avoided. We pray for an end to the dehumanisation of captives who become mere commodities to be bartered, traded and negotiated with.

We cannot remember our Coptic brothers without also remembering all those who have lost their lives in equally brutal circumstances: journalists, aid workers, medical staff, religious leaders, a young pilot and communities that are considered incompatible with a fringe and intolerant element.

In the midst of this sorrow however, we must continue to dig deeper for the joy that comes from an understanding that  this life is but a "vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14), and that true glory and joy are found in an eternal life prepared for all those who live in and for love and peace.

It is only through this understanding that we can continue to live according to the words of 1 Peter 3:15 as demonstrated in the life and witness of the Coptic Church and her children over centuries, "...always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you..."

*Ends*

News interviews with His Grace regarding the murder of Coptic Christians in Libya:
BBC World Interviews HG Bishop Angaelos following the murder of Copts in Libya














  • BBC World Service Radio interview here
  • Al Jazeera English TV Interview here

Monday, 2 February 2015

Tribute to Dr Helmy Guirguis by His Grace Bishop Angaelos

Tribute to Dr Helmy Guirguis, Founder and Chair of the UK Copts Association and international champion for Coptic Christians, who departed on 31 January 2015, by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
Dr Helmy Guirguis (pictured right) on panel during a press conference for the victims of the Maspero Massacre

Dr Helmy Guirguis was the father of Coptic Activism in Britain and Europe, and in some ways around the world. He has served faithfully as an advocate for over thirty years and has been a strong and wise ally for the past twenty as we have worked side by side on many issues that have touched the Coptic community in Egypt and Britain.

Dr Guirguis is one of the first Coptic Christians outside Egypt to have pioneered and championed advocacy, and has always spoken powerfully and effectively with graciousness and dignity. As a result, he has been respected and heard by many prominent decision and policy makers in Britain, Brussels, and around the world. He will always be remembered for his ability to provide a natural and seamless combination of gentle diplomacy and powerful advocacy, and has left a legacy that we are all inspired by and aspire to.

Helmy had been unstoppable in his struggle with illness for over two decades, most recently experiencing a variety of medical complications, yet had remained strong throughout. 

In conjunction with the UK Copts Association, which Helmy founded and headed, and both the Coptic and Egyptian medical societies, we are arranging a gathering in the coming weeks to remember, give thanks for, and celebrate the life of this great advocate. 

Our prayers are with his wonderful family, community and friends, that we all be comforted in the expectation of our beloved and respected Helmy receiving that wonderful commendation from our Lord and Chief Advocate Himself, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

HG Bishop Angaelos speaks at the Houses of Parliament regarding 'The characteristics of our British national identity'


On 27 January 2015 the Maranatha Community in the United Kingdom presented a statement in the Houses of Parliament regarding ‘The characteristics of our British national identity’. The meeting, chaired by Fiona Bruce MP, was attended by members of Parliament, various faith leaders and members of the public. The meeting was introduced by Dennis Wrigley, co-founder and co-leader of the Maranatha Community, who said the following:

“Our British values are firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian inheritance…it is not a question of making a Christian assertion but recognising what the historians have noted over centuries. Every man, woman and child is of value…These foundations if removed will lead to the collapse of our society.”

Presentations then followed from Phil Quenby who gave a historical perspective, John Scriven from a legal perspective, Edmund Matyjaszek as Headmaster, and His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom who spoke of the importance of the issue at this time in the life of our nation, and within the context of global events.

In speaking of the nature of British society, Bishop Angaelos said:

“It is not about declaring ourselves a Christian country, but continuing to be a country that embraces all according to the Christian origins of its laws and ideology.”

Commenting on the common misconception that Christianity is exclusive and alienating he went on to say:

“It is disconcerting that whenever Christians overtly live their faith and speak of Christian understanding and values, they are often perceived to be radicals who reject all others; yet this is certainly not the case. What we must remember as Christians however, is that in speaking prophetically and powerfully we must at the same time speak with sensitivity and empathy.”

In conclusion His Grace offered words of encouragement, saying:

“Through a realised, truly lived and visible unity as Christians, we must work within our complex societies and through obstacles set before us to always give a reason for the hope that is in us.”

After the presentations speakers took questions from the floor, and Dennis Wrigley concluded with the following aims:

“The need for a recognition of a set of values is desperately and urgently needed before the general election…the time has now come for Christians to define how human love and human kindness in the name of Jesus operates…there is hope when we reaffirm our values.”

After the meeting the statement was delivered to 10 Downing Street for the Rt. Hon. David Cameron as well as to Buckingham Palace for Her Majesty the Queen.





Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Prayer service with His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Bishop Angaelos and various Church leaders and representatives at Lambeth Palace to mark the first day of WPCU 2015

On Monday 19 January 2015 Church leaders and representatives gathered in the Crypt at Lambeth Palace at the invitation of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury to share in a prayer service under the auspices of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) marking the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU).

In his warm welcome, the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, read from a Middle East Council of Churches letter which called for unified prayer efforts and advocacy:

“Prayerfully together, we call upon all our fellow Christians around the world, both clergy and laity, who are celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to share with us our fervent and passionate prayer for peace in our beloved and suffering Orient, especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, who are currently facing the harshest waves of persecution…We appeal for your prayers and ask you to spare no efforts of advocacy wherever and whenever possible, to alleviate and end this painful and tragic reality, and to bring a safe and immediate release to all who have been kidnapped and to preserve a sustainable and peaceful Christian presence in the Middle East.”

During the service, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom and Moderator of CTBI, delivered the sermon in which he said:

“Some may have asked today whether this service should have been in an Orthodox Cathedral, a Church of England Abbey, or in this Crypt, but at the end of the day it does not matter; the fact is that we are here, and how wonderful and blessed it is for us to be here to pray together.”

Speaking of the potential hindrances to realised unity he said:

“Of course we have traditions, history, and practices, but they should never become an obstacle to us worshipping the Father. We now come together in the identity that is most core to us; before we are called Orthodox, Catholics, Anglicans, Evangelicals, or Free Church, we are called Christians and that is what we gather as today.”

Commenting on the suffering of many across the world Bishop Angaelos went on to say:

“There is no greater time for us to worship and gather because there has never been a greater need for us to stand and pray together. The world needs us; those suffering the effects of Ebola, HIV, and other diseases need us; the persecuted Church in the Middle East, Nigeria and around the world needs us, those suffering the results of global, ruthless, heartless terrorism that rocks our own communities need us, and contentiously, even those who are manipulated into horrible acts of violence need us; they all need us to stand to pray today.”

Concluding his sermon he said:

“Today we must work towards that one presence of one Body before one Lord. The ecumenical journey is a challenging one, but not impossible, and at the end of the day it is Christ's journey for us. Small sparks, like today, can turn into blazing infernos of the work of the Spirit; we are here as one such spark, albeit an important one.”

The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ‘The Well is Deep’ comes from the Churches in Brazil and is inspired by the account of the Samaritan woman found in the Gospel of John 4:1-42. The WPCU encourages Churches around the world to interact with other Christian denominations, and further develop and strengthen existing bonds through prayer, collaboration and shared witness. The service was led by Canon Bob Fyffe, General Secretary of CTBI. 


Members of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative (LOI) Steering Committee, currently meeting at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in the United Kingdom to discuss and prepare for the LOI 2015 International Consultation in Finland, also attended the service. 

*Ends*

Listen to the Sermon by HG Bishop Angaelos here: http://bit.ly/15sfhQU

Monday, 5 January 2015

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos regarding escalating attacks on Coptic Christians in Libya

For immediate use
5 January 2015

​Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom regarding escalating attacks on Coptic Christians in Libya

It is deeply concerning to witness the unprovoked, targeted and escalating attacks on Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya, particularly but not exclusively in Sirte.

In recent years Coptic Christians in Libya have endured horrific acts of brutality that include the bombing of churches, abductions, torture, and execution style murders. In recent weeks alone we have seen the murder of a Coptic Christian couple and their thirteen year old daughter in Sirte, and the kidnapping of thirteen Coptic men in the same area. Since December 2014 to date there have been reports of at least twenty abductions of Coptic Christians in Libya and these numbers continue to escalate.

In personal conversation with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, as well as representatives from the Diocese of Boheira and Pentapolis, we are aware that the Egyptian government is liaising with Libyan authorities and working to provide safe passage for Coptic Christians returning from Libya, an initiative welcomed at this time.

Out of serious concern and in light of these circumstances a meeting is currently being sought with the Libyan Ambassador to Britain for further discussion of these constantly evolving events.

At a time when Coptic and other Christian families are preparing to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity, we pray for those who are literally concerned for their lives in Libya as well as for countless other Christians and minority groups across the Middle East who are victims of war, violence, and unrest.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A message for the New Year by His Grace Bishop Angaelos

A message for the New Year by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop
of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom 
2014 has been a challenging year, demanding greater humanitarian assistance and advocacy for a variety of people across the world, and in many instances this has generated an immensely positive response from individuals and society as a whole. For that reason, while reflecting on the darkness of the tragedies that have been unfolding, we must also remember to give thanks for the light shining through the good works of faithful people in their response to them, some of whom have sadly paid the ultimate price.
Through these occurrences the world has experienced an extremist narrative seeking the destruction of centuries-old communities. In response to this alarming development however, there have been greater unified efforts across the ecumenical and inter-religious spectrums to express solidarity with, advocate on behalf of, and provide much needed aid to, those suffering.
Religious and civic leaders have been challenged to speak out against violations of basic human rights, and in many cases have responded to that call with a greater sense of responsibility and commitment. This response however, is still disproportionate to the suffering, destruction and devastation that has been experienced, and much remains to be done.
It is increasingly difficult to provide hope with the backdrop of those who continue to suffer gross violations of their rights, and yet we are reminded, particularly at this time of the year, that through the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, the whole of humanity has been freely gifted with respect, love and peace through the message of Salvation.
The global community is founded upon the safeguarding of fundamental principles of God-given freedom, liberty, and equality, and while many around the world are denied these rights, we who are free to enjoy them must advocate and do all we can to protect those same rights for them. We have an individual and collective responsibility towards our brothers and sisters, regardless of their religious affiliation, as every individual is entitled to live in peace, and with the freedom to choose and live his or her faith, as long as that does not impede on the choices of others.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was born into adversity and poverty, and at an early age fled to, and sought asylum in, Egypt. His family fled from oppressive persecution, and He continued to live His life facing immense challenges and struggles in order that we may find comfort in His example and His victory over all that seeks to overcome us. Our Lord warned us that “in the world you will have tribulation,” but then immediately reassures us with His powerfully comforting words “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
When considering oppression on a global scale, or closer to home, we must remember that God bestowed basic human rights upon the whole of humanity, and where those rights are violated we must act, because we are reminded that “faith [in this principle] without works is dead” (James 2:26).
We should take the opportunity at the beginning of this New Year to consider how we as individuals and communities can positively impact the lives of those around us, beginning with correcting those things within ourselves that may cause pain to others.
I wish you all the blessings of the Feast of the holy Nativity, and a New Year filled with good health, success and joy in all that it is dear.
+Angaelos
General Bishop
Coptic Orthodox Church
United Kingdom

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos on Human Rights Day 2014

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on Human Rights Day 2014

As the world marks human rights day and celebrates the freedom that is experienced by many, it remains the responsibility of us all, especially those in positions of influence, to advocate for those for whom those fundamental rights are still violated.


As Christians we believe that God has given humanity the respect and freedom to choose and live its faith, and this right is further enshrined in international treaties and agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human rights. It is unfortunate therefore to acknowledge that an unacceptably large proportion of the world’s population continues to suffer human rights violations and lives without these freedoms.

Guarding basic human rights for all must be taken seriously. In Scripture[1] we are reminded to speak for truth, justice and peace; this is both a responsibility and an obligation. As individuals we should advocate for those who suffer gross violations of their basic human rights, but when our efforts are expressed in unity and solidarity with people across denominations and faiths then they are far more powerful and effective for all.
As we celebrate Christmas and the New Year, we must remember those less fortunate or free than ourselves, and continue to encourage and support those who find themselves displaced, homeless, or at great risk, reminding them that they are not forgotten.
We pray for those deprived of their basic human rights across the world, as well as for continued strength to those who advocate for them, confident that those prayers and the cries of all who call upon Him are heard, reminded that “I have surely seen the oppression of My people…and have heard their cry…for I know their sorrows” (Exodus 3:7).




[1] The Holy Bible, Zechariah 8:16, NKJV

*Ends*

Resources:
Human Rights Day 10 December 2013: HG Bishop Angaelos Testimony at US Congressional Hearing re Human Rights Abuses in Egypt. Watch HERE

Follow His Grace Bishop Angaelos on Twitter @BishopAngaelos




[1] The Holy Bible, Zechariah 8:16, NKJV