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*

Thursday, 22 December 2016

HRH The Prince of Wales highlights the plight of minorities suffering religious persecution worldwide

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HRH The Prince of Wales highlights the plight of minorities
suffering religious persecution worldwide


22 December 2016

His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, has spoken out today for minorities suffering religious persecution in a video message for Aid to the Church in Need and on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’.

During his message, His Royal Highness spoke about the persecution of Christians and religious minorities, saying that for many “religious freedom is a daily stark choice between life and death. The scale of religious persecution is not widely appreciated…in some countries even more insidious forms of extremism have recently surfaced which aim to eliminate all types of religious diversity.” He went on to speak about the vast numbers of people displaced as a result of religious persecution in their homelands, and their ongoing struggle as they seek refuge elsewhere.

This message comes just one week after the brutal bombing and killing of 27 people, mostly women and children, in St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo, targeted purely for their Christian belief. In response to the bombing, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales wrote a letter of condolence to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, also offering his condolence in person to His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, at a private meeting at Clarence House on 14 December 2016.

In December 2013 His Royal Highness visited The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in the United Kingdom to express his support for Christians suffering persecution across the Middle East.


*Ends*

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Ambassador of Egypt join HG Bishop Angaelos in prayers at The Innocent Victims’ Memorial at Westminster Abbey, for victims of the Cairo Church Bombing


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The Archbishop of Canterbury and Ambassador of Egypt join HG Bishop Angaelos in prayers at The Innocent Victims’ Memorial at Westminster Abbey, for victims of the Cairo Church Bombing

14 December 2016

The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and His Excellency Mr Nasser Kamel, Ambassador of Egypt to the UK & NI, spoke at a prayer vigil alongside His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, at the Innocent Victims’ Memorial, Westminster Abbey.

The vigil was held on 14 December 2016 in honour of the 25 Coptic Orthodox Christians, mostly women and children, who lost their lives in the recent tragic bombing of St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo. Present at the memorial were various faith leaders, ambassadors, ecumenical guests, members of NGOs and the Coptic Orthodox community in the United Kingdom.  

The Reverend Jane Sinclair, Canon in Residence, welcomed all to the vigil, which began with a communal prayer of thanksgiving, followed by a Scripture reading, and addresses from HG Bishop Angaelos, HG The Archbishop of Canterbury and HE The Ambassador of Egypt. After the speeches there was a prayer for the departed, during which their names were read aloud as 25 red roses were laid onto the Innocent Victims’ Memorial in between 25 lit candles, representing the blood that they shed for their faith, and the light that they will continue to represent in the memory of many around the world.           

In his address during the vigil, Bishop Angaelos thanked Canon Sinclair, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Ambassador of Egypt, going on to thank all who attended, saying:

“It is deeply moving for myself and our community that all of you gathered here today have done so at such short notice. It is a shame that it takes events like these to gather us, but the fact that we do gather means that there is significantly greater good than evil in this world.

It is tragic that families have been broken apart just before the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity, and I can only begin to imagine their sorrow. While we pray for the families and support them pastorally in whatever way we can, we know that the loss of a loved one is something that only God can truly comfort at this time through His grace. I am personally moved that my sisters and brothers, continue, despite their suffering, to live with dignity, integrity, resilience, love and forgiveness, demonstrated through their genuine Christian witness.

People are indeed surprised when we speak of forgiveness at times like this, but we are called to forgive and we must continue to do so. Of course there is a call for justice but never for vengeance…reconciliation but never carelessness. In our unity as the Body of Christ, the family of faith, and the global family, we must continue to advocate for and safeguard the dignity and sanctity of every life. The importance of our mission and our ministry here as God’s children, is to continue, like these candles to be light in darkness.”

In responding to the tragic events in Cairo, the Archbishop of Canterbury said:

“We pray for all those who have lost loved ones that they may know God’s comforting presence, and for the nation of Egypt as it mourns. As we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ, the Prince of Peace, our prayer is that in Egypt Muslims and Christians together may be strengthened in their quest for peace and their rejection of the crude and cruel tactics of the terrorists.”

His Excellency The Ambassador of Egypt,​ said:

“Despite this moment of sorrow, the people of Egypt remain united against ignorance, intolerance and extremism. These heinous crimes that aim to undermine the unity of the Egyptian people,​  regardless of their religious affiliation, ​will never succeed, ​nor will the bonds that tie its religious establishments ever be broken. Peace and harmony have always prevailed in Egypt.

Let me remind you - as we also approach ​the Nativity celebrations - that the Virgin Mary, after giving birth to Jesus Christ, sought refuge in Egypt to protect her newborn from tyranny and intolerance." 

*Ends*
   



Monday, 12 December 2016

Message from HRH The Prince of Wales sent to HH Pope Tawadros II after Cairo Church Bombing


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Message of condolence received by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II from
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

12 December 2016

Messages of condolence have been pouring in for the Coptic Orthodox Community worldwide as a result of a brutal bombing which claimed the lives of 25, mostly women and children, at St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo.

A message from HRH The Prince of Wales was sent to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, saying:           

"I wanted to send to Your Holiness, and to all members of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and across the world, my most profound sympathy over the unbearably inhuman attack on the chapel adjacent to St Mark's Cathedral.  Those guilty of this terrible crime are clearly seeking, in their brutal way, to create divisions within Egyptian society, as we have seen only on Friday with the barbaric murder of six policemen in Giza. The steadfastness of Egyptians in the face of such appalling hatred and extremism is greatly to be admired.

I can only begin to imagine the dreadful shock and grief that Copts, and indeed all Egyptians, must be feeling and my heart goes out to the families and loved ones of those who have been killed and wounded.

I wanted to assure Your Holiness that Copts everywhere, and especially in Egypt, are in my thoughts and special prayers as they try to cope with the loss, pain and fear that the attack has inflicted upon them."

In response to the message of condolence from HRH The Prince of Wales and other individuals, Church bodies, faith groups and organisations, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom said:

“On a day of great concern and sadness for Coptic Christians around the world, it is truly heartening to receive warm messages of support and condolence from friends across a broad spectrum of society. Atrocities such as these cause much pain to all affected, yet they also shine light on the immense love, care and solidarity expressed by many who feel they share a common humanity, whatever their background, faith or walk of life.

I am thankful for the message from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who visited our community in 2013 to highlight the plight of Christians in the Middle East, and for his ongoing support for all who suffer as a result of oppression and marginalisation. We pray that God continue to provide hope, light and support to all who are suffering, as we also pray for those who continue to aspire to be that support, that hope and that light.”

*Ends*


HG Bishop Angaelos comments a day after brutal bombing and murder of 25 people in St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Cairo


HG Bishop Angaelos comments a day after brutal bombing and murder of 25 people in St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Cairo

12 December 2016

Today is a day of many emotions: sadness, nervousness, uncertainty, and understandably even anger at times. That is because yesterday was a day in which we witnessed the worst of humanity, when innocent women and children who decided to worship their God in their spiritual home had their lives needlessly and senselessly ended without warning. They were used as pawns; a means to an end. To the perpetrators of this heinous crime, their lives clearly held no greater value than scribbles on a strategic page; a plan that was to be executed for a cause to which they were merely incidental, collateral damage. Yesterday we saw beautiful lives lost, families separated and broken, and whole communities grieving; a truly painful time that has not only affected Coptic Christians, but Egyptian society at large, Muslims and Christians alike, and millions around the world.

Crimes will always be perpetrated and criminals will continue to exist, but such a strategic, vicious act is difficult to comprehend. It is indeed difficult to understand how a person might plan and execute such a horrific, ruthless and barbaric plot against innocent women and children. The only way to do this is to completely disregard the relevance, value and sanctity of any life potentially affected by these actions.

In recent decades, we have seen recurring acts of violence against Christians and Christian communities in Egypt. Time and time again, very few, if any, perpetrators have been brought to justice, and we subsequently continue to witness an escalation of these attacks. This is not a matter of blame, but accountability, with an expectation that barbaric acts such as these should never occur, but if they do, that their perpetrators are rightly and fairly held to account. This is not a call for vengeance, but a deterrent against similar future plans and aspirations. 

We are thankful for the overwhelming outpouring of emotion and support that we have personally received from friends, and even indeed strangers, around the world in response to this horrific and heartbreaking attack, but it is unfathomable that at the same time, others have politicised this atrocity by actually laying blame on those targeted, maimed and killed because of the perceived political stance of Christians in Egypt. They have even gone so far as to imply that Christians and the Church were somehow complicit in this crime to gain sympathy, allegedly using their daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers as means to a ludicrous contrived political end.

As Christians, we have hope in the belief that good will prevail despite the seemingly increasing evil in our world. Life will certainly go on and atrocities such as these will by no means defeat us. Today, tomorrow and the next day will continue to bring new beginnings and greater resilience, but there will continue to be a deep effect on many that may remain with them for weeks, months, and even years to come.

As Christians, we also believe in forgiveness, but forgiveness is by no means synonymous with ignoring justice. Forgiveness ensures that our own hearts are not entangled in a web of anger and resentment, or corrupted by feelings of hatred or revenge. Forgiveness is ultimately liberating and empowering, but at the same time, justice is essential; not for the purposes of punishment, but to secure and protect our societies in which people must respectfully live side by side.

Chapter 16 of the Gospel of Saint John tells us that in the world “we will have tribulation” but to be “of good cheer” for the Lord Jesus Christ has “overcome the [evils of this] world.” The Scriptures also tell us that “the time is coming that whoever kills [us] will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2). This reality has been lived for two millennia, through the reign of Diocletian, and continues until today as we still witness targeted persecution throughout the world. In facing these struggles throughout history, too many precious lives have been lost, and this is why we must advocate for the safeguarding of every life, so that many more do not continue to suffer on our watch.

As we prepare for feasts and celebrations
: Christmas in the Gregorian calendar, the New Year, the Feast of the Nativity in the Julian calendar, and Epiphany, sharing them with family and friends around us, there are families that will not be coming together, and communities that will not be celebrating, as a result of this great loss. We remember and pray for them all, and assure them that they will not be forgotten. We also live confident that if we, as limited imperfect beings, are moved by their loss and suffering in this way, that our perfect, all-loving, all-powerful, and all-just God hears their cries and will by no means forsake or forget them, but strengthen, support and comfort them as only He can.

*Ends*

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos after explosion kills at least 25 at St Peter's Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo

Al Jazeera English and BBCWorld  News Interview with HG Bishop Angaelos
Bomb kills 25 Coptic Orthodox worshippers during Sunday worship in Cairo

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop
 of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
 
11 December 2016

It is with great sadness that we receive the news today of at least 25 people brutally murdered by an explosion during regular Sunday worship at St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo, adjacent to the Grand Cathedral of Saint Mark.

Our prayers are with those whose lives have been so senselessly ended, those who have been injured, and every family and community affected. We also pray for every Coptic parish and community across Egypt as they fill their churches this morning, as well as for the broader Egyptian society that fall victim to similar inhumane attacks.

Many within our Coptic community in Britain will have family and friends in Egypt, and we also pray for them at this time of uncertainty. 

We share in this tragedy but are encouraged by the strength and resilience of our brethren in Egypt that we have grown accustomed to and learn from. We pray God’s peace and protection upon the Christians of Egypt, the broader Egyptian society, Christians around the world worshipping this morning and all faith communities that fall prey to similar attacks. 



Saturday, 10 December 2016

Human Rights Day 2016: Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos

Human Rights Day 2016

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

10 December 2016

As another year draws to a close and we mark Human Rights Day 2016, the importance of the sanctity of every human life remains challenged in far too many places in our world. This is despite various charters and conventions put in place to safeguard the lives of all. While humanity is seen to be rapidly advancing in many areas we are, as a global community, guilty of neglecting and even forsaking basic God-given rights and freedoms which were bestowed indiscriminately upon all; rights that must continue to underpin our values and choices if we seek to preserve justice, peace and freedom.

Human Rights Day commemorates the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[1] in 1948, which set out to provide a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations to be universally protected.

Among the various safeguards outlined in the Charter, yet clearly still violated across our world today, is Article 3, which states: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” This is sadly in stark contrast to the way in which many are forced to exist in parts of our world. Likewise, Article 14 outlines that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution,” a right now threatened by vast global displacement that has in part resulted from the overlooking of gross human rights violations over decades against those who now seek refuge. On the matter of Religious Freedom in particular, Article 18, a right still grossly violated in many countries states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” This of course is starkly different from the reality that 5.3 billion people, representing 76% of the world’s population, live in countries with a high or very high level of restrictions on religion[2]. Other articles within the Charter deal with education, legal representation, quality of life, and other key issues, yet how many of the countries that subscribe to this charter truly abide by it in its entirety?

We should not forget however, that so many within the religious, civic and political spheres work tirelessly to advocate for the protection of these basic human rights, and their efforts must be supported and praised. We owe a great debt of gratitude to countless religious leaders, advocates, lawyers, politicians, healthcare professionals, aid workers, volunteers, and so many more who risk their lives for the sake of others.

Whether speaking of religious freedom, freedom of thought or conscience, asylum, education or any other right outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we must realise that all of these rights are fundamental, as without them we allow for inequality, injustice, marginalisation, and oppression. We must also remember that to protect the rights of others is to protect our own.

Remembering that there is a foundation for our actions that pre-exists this and similar charters, the Christian message calls us to live as the image and likeness of God, and if we are to do so faithfully, the Scriptures provide a model for us to follow in the way that He Himself has dealt with humanity, saying “He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18).

We pray that those who work tirelessly to safeguard the rights of others are supported in their continuing and faithful work, and that more commit to the active promotion and safeguarding of these basic human rights that protect us all. We also pray for all those deprived of their basic human rights across our global community, that they find comfort and peace, knowing that many around the world still work tirelessly to alleviate their pain.


*Ends*


[1] www.UN.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights
[2] www.FreedomDeclared.org/Facts

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Press Release: Syrian Patriarch speaks at House of Lords meeting hosted by Lord Alton, at the invitation of HG Bishop Angaelos

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Syrian Patriarch speaks at House of Lords meeting

29 November 2016

On 28 November 2016 a meeting was held with the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church at the House of Lords, hosted by The Lord Alton of Liverpool, at the invitation of His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.

The meeting, held under Chatham House Rules, gave opportunity for interested parliamentarians, diplomats, religious leaders and members of advocacy and human rights organisations, to listen to His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, one of Syria’s leading figures and one of its senior Christian leaders. The current situation in Syria, the suffering of its Christian communities and how others abroad can be of assistance, was discussed.

During the course of the meeting, concerns were raised over the nature of media coverage of events in Syria, and its lack of coverage of suffering communities in Western Aleppo. The concerns of the Syrian community, both Muslim and Christian, over British foreign policy and its potential long-term effects were raised.

The efforts of the Church in Syria to support and care for all members of the community indiscriminately, despite a lack of resources, were outlined. Following the meeting The Baroness Cox and The Lord Cormack both raised questions in a debate in the House of Lords concerning the situation in Aleppo.

After the meeting, Bishop Angaelos said:

“I am pleased that numerous members of parliament and the British community were given opportunity to listen to His Holiness, who is not merely a leader, but someone who lives in Syria among his flock, and who understands the gross challenges faced by Syrians. It is time for us to stop speaking about people in Syria, and start speaking and listening to them, in order to ascertain their needs and to try our utmost to meet them.

While thankful for the generosity and humanitarian aid already provided by Her Majesty’s government and the British public to suffering communities in the Middle East, what has become increasingly more evident is that Churches in Syria are left to their own devices to provide for those suffering, both Christian and Muslim, as a result of the ongoing war and crisis.

With limited resources and little to no funding from government bodies, Churches are playing a crucial role in helping to provide for the most vulnerable, and to hold communities together at a time when they themselves are under threat. The time is now for us all to do what we can to act to support their efforts, and to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected and not left to suffer under our watch.

Having said that, we give thanks for the clear message of Christian hope consistently lived and demonstrated by our sisters and brothers in Syria, and continue to pray that calm, peace and safety may once again be restored to their land and communities.”

In the days before the meeting, Bishop Angaelos attended the consecration of St Thomas Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, with His Holiness Patriarch Aphrem II, which was also attended by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, and attended liturgy at the Cathedral with the Patriarch before welcoming him to a community reception at St Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in London. 

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