Saturday, 27 May 2017

Reflection By His Grace Bishop Angaelos on recent terrorist attacks in Egypt and elsewhere

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Reflection
By His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, on recent terrorist attacks in Egypt and elsewhere

You are Loved
27 May 2017

Once again, we find ourselves experiencing pain before which words seem insufficient. I have previously addressed victims of terrorist acts; I have addressed their families; I have even addressed those who may have had an opportunity, even in some small way, to advocate for or support those most vulnerable. This time however, I feel a need to address those who perpetrate these crimes.

You are loved. The violent and deadly crimes you perpetrate are abhorrent and detestable, but YOU are loved.

You are loved by God, your Creator, for He created you in His Image and according to His Likeness, and placed you on this earth for much greater things, according to His plan for all humankind. You are loved by me and millions like me, not because of what you do, but what you are capable of as that wonderful creation of God, Who has created us with a shared humanity. You are loved by me and millions like me because I, and we, believe in transformation.

Transformation is core to the Christian message for throughout history we have seen many transformed from being those who persecuted Christ Himself and Christians, to those who went on to live with grace. We believe in transformation because, on a daily basis, we are personally transformed from a life of human weakness and sinfulness to a life of power and righteousness. We believe in transformation because the whole message of the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is to take humanity from the bonds of sin and death to a liberation in goodness and everlasting life. Our world is certainly suffering from the brokenness of our humanity, but it is our responsibility, personally and collectively, to encourage and inspire ourselves, and all those whom we meet along our path, to a life of virtue and holiness, and the love and forgiveness of all.

This of course, is far from the reaction that many may have expected, but the Christian message is just that, to look at our world as through the eyes of God, Who loves all and Who desires that all be liberated through Him.  

I grieve, certainly for those who have lost their lives, for those who mourn, and for those who will continue to be adversely affected by these tragic experiences; but I also grieve for a young man who sees it not only justifiable, but glorious, to take the lives of other young men and women, and deprive his and their families of enjoying them as they grow and mature. 

No family should lose a son in this way, even if they are partially or wholly responsible for his flawed ideology. This loss might be to that ideology, to incarceration as a result of his actions and choices or, in the worst case, in taking his own life, along with others, regardless of the great cost to those left behind. In the same way, no family deserves to lose children and members who merely go about their day to enjoy their God-given right to exist, whether it be by attending a concert, taking a pilgrimage to a monastery, simply walking through city streets, or in any other way.

I also grieve for those who considered it a victory to board a bus filled with pilgrims and execute children, women and men purely for refusing to denounce their Faith, as we saw happen to Coptic Christians in Menia only yesterday.

What is increasingly obvious is that many of these attacks come about due to a loss of the meaning and comprehension of the sanctity of life, our own or that of others; so join me in praying for the brokenness of our world that causes parents to lose their children, children to lose their parents, and humankind to lose the humanity for which it was created.

What is important is not that this message be read but that it be communicated; not that it be accepted but that it be understood as another perspective; and not that it should be fully embraced, but that it may create at least a shadow of a doubt in the minds of those intent on inflicting harm and pain.




*Ends* 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Press Release: HH Pope Tawadros II received by Her Majesty The Queen, His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, during his first pastoral visit to the United Kingdom

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HH Pope Tawadros II received by Her Majesty The Queen, His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, during his first pastoral visit to the United Kingdom

Left to Right: Her Majesty The Queen, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, His Grace Bishop Angaelos

17 May 2017

On his first pastoral visit, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, has been visiting Coptic Orthodox parishes and meeting with communities across the United Kingdom. Pope Tawadros has also consecrated churches, presided over Liturgies and Vespers services, and addressed hundreds of young people at a Coptic youth gathering.

During his visit, Pope Tawadros II was received by Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor Castle on 9 May. This historic audience with Her Majesty was also attended by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and the Rt Rev David Conner, Dean of Windsor. During the meeting HH Pope Tawadros II presented Her Majesty with a Coptic icon depicting the ‘Flight to Egypt’ of the Holy Family.

After the audience, Bishop Angaelos said:

“This meeting between Her Majesty and His Holiness is an embodiment of our Coptic Orthodox Church here in Britain, made up of those, many of whom will have roots in Egypt, who still feel connected to Egypt, but are very integrated as British Copts. I am personally thankful for this meeting that reinforces this composite and naturally organic identity at the highest level of our Church and nations.”

Photo credit: Coptic Church UK
Shortly after meeting with Her Majesty The Queen, Pope Tawadros was received by His Excellency Mr Nasser Kamel, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Kingdom, at a dinner and reception at the Egyptian Embassy in London. The reception was attended by Coptic clergy and laity, as well as the wider British Egyptian community.

Photo credit: Coptic Church UK
In the days following, Pope Tawadros was the Guest of Honour at a lunch in the Palace of Westminster, hosted by The Rt Revd the Lord Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, who spoke in his address about the witness of Christians in the Middle East, saying:
“…we feel deeply united with you and your people in sufferings that you experience, and we pray for you very much. I know that connection extends beyond those who would call themselves Christians, to a solidarity of humanity with you and your people and a huge respect for, to quote another virtue from the Bible, the ‘patient endurance’ that you always express when these difficulties occur and your words of peace.”

The lunch was attended by members of the House of Lords, ecumenical guests and members of the Coptic Orthodox clergy and community in the United Kingdom. Following the lunch, Pope Tawadros laid a wreath at the Recording Angel memorial in Westminster Hall, in honour of PC Keith Palmer, who lost his life in the Westminster attack on 22 March 2017.

Photo credit: Coptic Church UK
During his stay Pope Tawadros received individuals and groups at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Hertfordshire, including the Coptic Medical Board and the Coptic Partnership for Relief and Development, both established by Bishop Angaelos with members of the Coptic community to ensure the highest level of collaboration for those most in need in Egypt. Among his meetings, His Holiness also received His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan.
Photo credit: Lambeth Palace






On Friday 12 May, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II was received by The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, at a historic meeting in Lambeth Palace. During the visit, Pope Tawadros met privately with the Archbishop, later joining the rest of the Coptic delegation and ecumenical guests, when addresses were delivered. His Holiness signed the official guestbook with the words ‘Love Never Ends’, and presented a Coptic icon of the ‘Flight to Egypt’ of the Holy Family to Archbishop Justin.



During his address, Pope Tawadros II thanked the Archbishop for his hospitality and said:

“We are grateful to God for the co-operation, dialogue, and Christian love between our two Churches. We are hopeful and pray for more and more Christian unity globally and we believe it is possible through the love of God, and through the ecumenical blood of all Christian martyrs.”

In his address to His Holiness, His Grace the Archbishop commented on the resilient example of Coptic Christians in Egypt, saying:

“The experience of the Coptic people in Egypt is not only an example to the Body of Christ around the world, but also a profound inspiration. The courage of your people – their constant faith, their steadfastness, their long endurance – brings to life those words we read so often in the epistles of Saint Paul, and we are truly grateful and give thanks to God for you and for your people.”

Picture(s) by : Westminster Abbey/Picture Partnership.
Following the meeting at Lambeth Palace, the two Church leaders and their delegations, attended Evensong at Westminster Abbey at the invitation of the Dean of Westminster Rev Dr John Hall, walking side by side during the procession, and praying together at the shrine of St Edward the Confessor.

Evensong was followed by a general meeting led by His Holiness the Pope, with members of the Coptic community, in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey. The Pope gave a sermon and presented gifts to members of the community. Before the meeting, Pope Tawadros was officially welcomed by the Dean of Westminster who spoke of his solidarity with the plight of Christians in the Middle East and in Egypt, and spoke of unity, saying:

“The cause of unity between Christians is something which is dear to us and immensely precious. It is wonderful that in this 21st Century, relations between all the Churches, develop so strongly and warmly together, and Your role, Your Holiness, in convening leaders of the Churches including Pope Francis and others has been an example to all of us.”
Photo by Mark Kessler
Photo by Mr Sami Gabriel
On 17 May, His Holiness the Pope, accompanied by Bishop Angaelos, was received by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales at Clarence House. In December 2013, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was received by Bishop Angaelos at The Coptic Centre in Stevenage for the first time, as part of a series of visits in which he sought to highlight the plight of Christians in the Middle East. His Royal Highness continues to be supportive in response to the suffering of Christian and minority groups in the region. 
At the commencement of the visit, an official vespers service was held in his honour at the Coptic Cathedral of Saint George in Hertfordshire. The event was held on 6 May 2017, and attended by members of the House of Lords, the Diplomatic Corps, the Foreign Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, humanitarian and advocacy organisations, and various ecumenical and inter-religious guests.

Commenting on the visit as a whole, His Grace Bishop Angaelos said:

“It has been a blessing for the Coptic community here in the United Kingdom to engage with their shepherd. It was also an opportunity for His Holiness to meet his flock and to encounter some of the work being done under the various ministries within the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.

I am thankful that the visit was fruitful and gave His Holiness an overview of the diverse and dynamic role of Coptic Christians across Britain who endeavour to live faithfully according to their Christian principles, while being fully integrated into their surrounding community. I am also pleased that we had the opportunity to learn from the example of peaceful yet powerful resilience that His Holiness and our brothers and sisters in Egypt demonstrate on a daily basis.” 
Photo by Michael Hani

More photographs available via www.Flickr.com/CopticMedia (Many more photographs and videos will become available over the coming weeks)

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Press Release: Official Vespers Service and Youth Day in honour, and in the presence, of HH Pope Tawadros II at The Coptic Cathedral of Saint George

      Coptic Orthodox Church UK
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Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
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Official Vespers Service and Youth Day in honour, and in the presence, of HH Pope Tawadros II at The Coptic Cathedral of Saint George
Photo Credit: Marcin Mazur

9 May 2017

As part of the first pastoral visit of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, an official vespers service was held in his honour at the Coptic Cathedral of Saint George in Hertfordshire. The event was held on 6 May 2017, following a gathering earlier that day of over six hundred Coptic youth from across the UK, who listened to a sermon by His Holiness on 'the Cross and the joy it brings.' There were also presentations from two youth choirs, both traditional and contemporary, along with video presentations outlining the various ministries that fall under the umbrella of ‘Coptic Youth Mission’. His Holiness also officiated a Eucharistic service at the Cathedral of Saint George on Sunday 7 May 2017.

His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, gave an introductory welcome at the start of the official vespers service, which was attended by members of the House of Lords, the Diplomatic Corps, the Foreign Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, humanitarian and advocacy organisations, and various ecumenical and inter-religious guests.

In his address, His Grace Bishop Angaelos highlighted the role that the Coptic Orthodox Church plays in British society in its pastoral, ecumenical and official capacity. His Grace went on to thank the Pope for his resilience amidst trying times in Egypt, saying:
“We are blessed as Coptic Christians, because of the witness of Your Holiness and our sisters and brothers in Egypt. We are blessed because of your goodness, strength, faithfulness, and forgiving nature; and because of the life of Christ that is vibrant and alive in the midst of an often-increasing darkness.”

Elaborating on the targeted persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, His Grace went on to say:
“We are being persecuted by some who do not want us to remain in the Middle East, but it is by no means the majority of Egypt. We have seen police officers, soldiers and simple men and women, not only Christians but Muslims, also dying. This targeting is of a cohesive way of life.”

His Grace concluded by addressing His Holiness directly, saying:
“You are an inspiration, role model, guide and father, and we thank you for joining us here, and give thanks to God for your continued witness.”

A message from The Right Honourable Theresa May, Prime Minister, was read during the service, followed by a fraternal message from The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, read by The Right Reverend Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark.  


In his message, the Archbishop said:
“Your Holiness, we live in testing times. The suffering of Christians in Egypt has been acute in recent weeks. I am grateful for the witness of steadfast bravery and hope that you have shown. Your fellow Christians are strengthened by your faithfulness to the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ and by your unswerving commitment to the worship of the triune God."

The Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, said in his message:

"In fact a large part of the body of Christ is hurting today, and so this is a time to express our deep solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church. We thank God for them!  We must renew our love for them – indeed for you, my brothers and sisters – and with you for those who oppress you. And we must renew our commitment to pray." 

In the Papal address, which was delivered in English, Pope Tawadros thanked all those who spoke during the service, and said:
“It is a great honour for me to be here today and a blessing for us all to gather together. This is a fulfilment of our Christian calling, which is to keep the “unity of spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

His Holiness spoke of the role that Egypt has played historically in its contribution to Christianity.

Pope Tawadros linked Egypt’s rich history to the way in which many Coptic Christians remain steadfast in their Faith today, saying:
“In the same way Coptic Christians have given their lives in martyrdom throughout the ages, they continue to be killed for their Faith today. Both teachings and martyrdom have contributed to the preservation of the Christian Faith.”

Speaking of the recent visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church to Egypt, HH Pope Tawadros went on to say:
“We were all blessed by the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Egypt, and these visits, along with many others from sister Churches, make for continued good relations between our Churches, and also shed light on the rich history and ongoing role that Egypt has to play.”

Speaking more broadly on spiritual matters that affect our global humanity, His Holiness continued:
“The world today has become more hungry for love, especially as the life of technology has uncovered every aspect of the human being. In other words, the relation of man to machine became superior to the relation of human to human.”

“This dynamic has contributed to the increased violence and terrorism we experience in our world today. Together we must work to present the love of Christ for everyone, in any place, at any time. Therefore, we in Egypt depend on the words which Saint Paul, who instructs us that ‘Love never fails’ (1 Corinthians 13:8). Our relations, whether inside or outside Egypt, must depend on the notion that ‘love never fails’ and we must present love in action.”

Addresses were also delivered by The Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, His Excellency Mr Nasser Kamel, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Kingdom, His Eminence Mor Athanasius Toma Dawod of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Co-Chair of the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum, and His Eminence Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom. The service was followed by a reception at which guests conversed with His Holiness and met members of the Coptic Orthodox community.

His Holiness will visit Coptic Orthodox parishes across the United Kingdom, officiating liturgical services and performing several consecrations, while generally taking time to engage with parishioners. Pope Tawadros will also engage with various ecumenical, interfaith and official members of British society at a series of events planned throughout the course of his stay. 
Photo credit: Michael Hani


*Ends*

Photographs will be made available throughout the visit via www.Flickr.com/CopticMedia          

Friday, 5 May 2017

Press Release: His Holiness Pope Tawadros II embarks on his first pastoral visit to the United Kingdom in May 2017

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
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Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
                                Media and Communications Office


PRESS RELEASE

His Holiness Pope Tawadros II embarks on his first pastoral visit to the United Kingdom in May 2017

5 May 2017

Later today, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, will commence his first pastoral visit of the United Kingdom.

This will be the first time His Holiness has visited as head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, whose membership remains predominantly in Egypt. Coptic Christians now also represent 80% of Christians in the Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity.

His Holiness will visit Coptic Orthodox parishes across the United Kingdom, officiating liturgical services and performing several consecrations, while generally taking time to engage with parishioners. Pope Tawadros will also engage with various ecumenical, interfaith and official members of British society at a series of events planned throughout the course of his stay. 

His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, will receive His Holiness today and accompany him throughout his stay. Earlier today Bishop Angaelos said:

“This is a historic visit, not only of the 118th Pope of Alexandria to the United Kingdom, but more personally for His Holiness Pope Tawadros, as his first engagement with his flock across Britain. For Coptic Christians here, it will be an opportunity to spend time with the head of their Church, and their spiritual father.
This has been a difficult year for Christians in Egypt with recent and ongoing attacks, and thus the visit will also be an opportunity for their brothers and sisters to hear directly from His Holiness about the situation there, and how they can provide greater support for them.”

During his visit, one of the most significant engagements will be when the Pope addresses hundreds of youth from Coptic parishes across England at a meeting during which they will present on the various ministries they engage with under the umbrella of Coptic Youth Mission.


*Ends*

Photographs will be made available throughout the visit via www.Flickr.com/CopticMedia

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, following two explosions in Coptic Churches in Tanta and Alexandria


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Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, following two explosions in Coptic Churches in Tanta and Alexandria

9 April 2017

Today, Egypt’s Christians experienced yet another targeted attack, with a bombing of the Church of Saint George in Tanta during what was meant to be a joyous day of families celebrating Palm Sunday. A few hours later there was a second bombing in Alexandria, killing innocent men, women and children as they left a Palm Sunday Liturgy that was officiated by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark.

While it is still too early to determine responsibility, what is undeniable is the senseless and heartless brutality that can lead a person or people to indiscriminately take innocent lives, especially at the most vulnerable hour of prayer.

Today we suffer with our sisters and brothers who have experienced losses in London, in Stockholm, and as well as those who continue to suffer on a daily basis across the Middle East. We pray for them and their families as well as their suffering and struggling communities.

We pray for His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and all our Coptic clergy in Egypt who continue to serve their spiritual children faithfully and diligently at a time in which their leadership and pastoral care is needed by our whole community. We also pray for our Coptic Orthodox sisters and brothers who continue to be resilient in the face of ongoing and escalating attacks, and who resist the urge to react vengefully or reciprocally.

We are also saddened by the news that members of the security services who attempted to foil the second bombing in Alexandria lost their lives in the line of duty. We pray comfort and resolve for their families and colleagues.

As we celebrate Palm Sunday today and Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, we now also mark the entry of those who have passed today into the heavenly Jerusalem. As we continue into the Holy Week of our Saviour, we share in the pain and heartbreak of their families and of all those affected by today’s incidents. As we celebrate the Feast of the glorious Resurrection at the end of this week, we are reminded that our life here on earth is a journey often filled with pain, at the end of which is a promised glorious and eternal life void of such suffering and evil.
*Ends*




Thursday, 23 March 2017

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos, on the terrorist attack in Westminster on 22 March 2017


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Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, on the terrorist attack in Westminster


23 March 2017

We have once again seen the worst and best of humanity in yesterday’s Westminster attack. One person was intent on harming and ending life, while countless hundreds of others tirelessly did their utmost to maintain and protect the lives of those they may not even have known. Our prayers are first and foremost with those who have lost loved ones, those who are injured and those who will carry the trauma of what they have experienced.

Having been within the Palace of Westminster when this attack happened, I witnessed the tireless efforts of hundreds of individuals whose primary goal was to look after and secure all those under their care: members of both Houses who reassured their guests and colleagues, the staff and security of the Houses of Parliament who looked after the ill and elderly, Metropolitan Police and emergency service officers who were among us updating and guiding us through the process, school teachers looking after their children who were visiting Parliament, sitting them down and singing songs to reassure them, the Chaplain to the Speaker who stood from beginning to end mingling with, and reassuring all those who were there, and countless others, each doing what he or she could to assist in any way.

What I found particularly moving was that, in the face of this act of terror, everyone involved demonstrated an instinctive and immense courage and resilience.

This and similar acts are meant to dishearten and defeat us; they are meant to take away our resolve and aim to lead us into a spiral of revenge. Despite evocative attempts to corrupt our hearts to hatred, we on the contrary have seen acts of unwavering selflessness, sacrifice and compassion.

Our thoughts and prayers are especially with the family of PC Keith Palmer of the Metropolitan Police, and all his colleagues who continue to work for the protection of others despite their personal loss. We also stand together in prayer for all those affected by this horrific attack, for those entrusted with the leadership, security and safeguarding of our communities, and for the safety of everyone in London and beyond. 


Friday, 3 March 2017

Knights of Columbus Supreme Council makes donation to families of victims of the St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church bombing in Cairo, Egypt

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Knights of Columbus Supreme Council makes donation to families of victims of the St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church bombing in Cairo, Egypt

3 March 2017

Given the ongoing needs of those affected by the bombing of St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo on 11 December 2016, which claimed the lives of 29 people, mostly women and children, the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council has donated $75,000 to support the families of victims.

Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson spoke to His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, shortly after the bombing to arrange this support for the families and communities affected by the tragic event.

Speaking on behalf of Knights of Columbus, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said:

"The Knights of Columbus is honored to assist those affected by this terrible and tragic crime. Even long after events like those of December 11, the physical and emotional scars of such calamities continue to affect the victims, and it is our hope that these funds will help to heal those who have had to endure this assault. It is also our hope that this donation will highlight the solidarity we feel with our Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt. Their courage in persevering in the faith despite such attacks inspires us in our own faith, and while we are horrified by the attack, we are also deeply grateful for the Christian witness of forgiveness shown by those affected."

Commenting on the generous donation, His Grace Bishop Angaelos said:

“On behalf of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, and the Coptic Orthodox Church, we are very thankful for the generosity of Knights of Columbus, and grateful for our ongoing relationship with them. Having worked closely with Supreme Knight Anderson and The Knights of Columbus in March 2016 on the campaign to highlight the Genocide against Christians in the Middle East, we know that there is much that can be achieved when we stand together to witness for those persecuted around the world, whether in Egypt or elsewhere.”

*Ends*

Resources:

For more information please contact:
  • Knights of Columbus: Andrew T. Walther, Vice President, Communications and Strategic Planning, Andrew.Walther@Kofc.Org
  • The Coptic Orthodox Church UK Communications Office: Angela Mikhail, Media@CopticCentre.com


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Comment by HG Bishop Angaelos, on the recent spate of attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt, including the recent attacks in Al-Arish, Sinai.


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Comment by His Grace Bishop Angaelos,
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom,
on the recent spate of attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt,
including the recent attacks in Al-Arish, Sinai.




28 February 2017

I have now drafted and redrafted this statement numerous times over the past weeks, wanting to say something about the deadly attacks experienced by Coptic Christians in Egypt on a daily basis, yet every time I do, there seems to be a new and often more horrifying attack that needs to be addressed. In the past three months alone forty Coptic Christians have been murdered in targeted attacks in Egypt. From the terrorist bombing on St Peter’s Coptic Church in Cairo that claimed the lives of twenty nine mainly women and children, to the murders of individuals across the country since, the one common denominator is that these innocent children, women and men have had their lives brutally and tragically ended for no other reason except that they are Christians.

Incitement by terrorist groups that calls for the killing of Christians in Egypt has spiralled over the past weeks to the extent that lists of churches and individuals have now been released as desirable targets.

While persecution is nothing new for the Coptic community, this escalation of attacks over the past months, culminating in the most recent murders of seven Christians in Al-Arish, has resulted in the displacement of hundreds forced to leave their generations-old homes in North Sinai.

These horrific attacks have gone largely unnoticed by the international community, but Copts continue to suffer tragic violations daily. The attacks against them are anti-Christian and religiously-motivated, demonstrated in many cases by the circulation of flyers within villages urging Christians to ‘leave or die’. Similar events have tragically occurred far too often over the past years, and there is unfortunately little deterrent to prevent them from reoccurring.

In our fast moving world that is filled with so much news of tragedy, war and death, it is all too easy for atrocities to become ‘incidents’, and for individuals suffering them to become mere statistics, very quickly pushed aside by the next item of news. In the eyes of the perpetrators they are a viable target, and in the eyes of the world they become a regrettable phenomenon; yet what is actually left behind is traumatised individuals, families and communities that have lost loved ones, living the reality of themselves being targeted.

While Coptic Christians have been particularly targeted they have always remained peaceful and opted for non-retaliation. Exceeding this already admirable stance, they have even proceeded to forgive their perpetrators. After the destruction of over 100 places of Christian ministry and worship in August of 2013, the bombing of various churches across the country in the last decade, and the targeted killing of clergy, families, women and children, purely for their Faith, the community and individuals within it remain non-violent and resilient. Despite there being condemnation of these attacks by national government and authorities, there is yet to be a consistent robust and fair implementation of these same sentiments more regionally and locally.

In communicating over the past weeks with various brothers and sisters in Egypt, what becomes immediately apparent is that this community that continues to witness its Faith with integrity and strength despite the hurdles it faces, desires to live with dignity in its indigenous homeland.

It must also be mentioned that Coptic Christians are not alone in facing these attacks, as scores of Egyptian civilians, soldiers and police officers have lost their lives as a result of this wave of terrorist activity.

We pray for those suffering terrorism and violence, for God to grant them peace and reassurance that they are not forgotten by Him or by all those who not only witness their plight but strive to advocate for them. We also pray for those in positions of authority and influence that they may be advocates for all those entrusted into their care. Finally, and not of least importance we pray for those who perpetrate these crimes, that they once again become conscious of the true value of every life that appears to be dispensable in their eyes.

*Ends*


Friday, 10 February 2017

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales makes donation to monasteries in Upper Egypt for their continued work for the Christian and Muslim community


10 February 2017

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has made a donation towards the community work of the St Pachomius and El Gidiseen Coptic Orthodox monasteries in Upper Egypt. Both monasteries carry out projects that benefit Christians and Muslims within their respective communities, and have done so for centuries.

Monasticism was established in the 4th centuries in Egypt and since then monasteries have been an intrinsic part of Egyptian culture, both in their desert and rural settings. Their work is in areas of health and social welfare, irrespective of religion, faith, gender or any affiliation.”

In response to the contribution made, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said:

“We are very thankful for the continuing support of His Royal Highness. This is indeed a recognition of the role of the Christian communities working in Egypt within their indigenous settings; it is also a recognition of the rich monastic tradition that the Egyptian deserts have shared with the whole world over the past 1500 years.
The grant recognises that faith communities, if working in a healthy way within their urban or rural settings, can still make a contribution and have a very positive effect, even amongst the conflict that still exists in some places.”

*Ends*


Monday, 30 January 2017

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, on the current debate regarding security and provision of refuge for the most vulnerable

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Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, on the current debate regarding security and provision of refuge for the most vulnerable

30 January 2017

The current state of geo-politics and the numerous terrorist attacks around our world in recent months have led to a growing uncertainty and global anxiety with regards to both internal and external security. This concern has prompted debates on the need for vigilance, the safeguarding of national security and the protection of individuals. Those same debates have also uncovered an underlying scepticism over the fluidity of borders and ease of access for those potentially intending harm, while also highlighting a perceived lack of compassion and understanding for those fleeing that same harm.

While it is important to safeguard individuals, communities and entire nations, it is undeniable that there has been widespread instability and conflict that has also led to the inhumane treatment and vast displacement of millions of vulnerable people across the Middle East and elsewhere. In seeking to protect individuals or a particular sector of a community, it is imperative that we do not alienate others, especially when it means denying the basic human rights and freedoms of those most vulnerable. We are already witnessing the generic application of law and policy running the risk of violating the same rights they seek to protect, potentially doubly discriminating against vulnerable families and individuals fleeing war and conflict by denying them the opportunity to seek refuge and safe haven.

As Christians following Biblical teachings and traditions existing for millennia, we believe that God instructs us to provide refuge and hospitality to all humanity indiscriminately. He does not stop there in His instruction, but goes further to urge us to love all, even those who consider us their enemies. We are warned in the Gospel of Saint Matthew about neglecting “…the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” In addressing the balance between maintaining security and providing refuge for those most vulnerable, we must remember the words of our Lord that, “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Love and forgiveness, as I have stated in the past should not amount to a lack of justice or wisdom, but they do safeguard against our human tendencies to seek revenge, or act in ways no different from those who seek to harm us.

While our human brokenness has led to the conflict and vulnerability we see in the world, we must not allow that same brokenness to lead us into dehumanising others, considering them less worthy of God-given rights and freedoms.

At a time when some politicians across the globe are utilising language that potentially promotes division and polarisation, it is imperative for all in positions of influence or authority, whether religious leadership or other, to remind all of the crucial values of love, acceptance, forgiveness and mercy. Without these values, our world will become a much more hostile place; and in not providing for the other, we deprive ourselves and future generations of those same entitlements fought for and upheld for millennia.

As a Church that frequently finds itself at the receiving end of lethal terrorist attacks, we understand far too well the need to protect communities and individuals. At the same time however, we must not do so in a way that compromises our integrity or goes against the humaneness with which we must address the vast majority of those who do not directly or indirectly advocate for, aspire to, or inflict harm on others.  

We pray wisdom for leaders, safe passage and refuge for the vulnerable, and a realisation, by those who seek to inflict harm and terror on others, of the value and sanctity of every life.


*Ends*