A bishop delegation dispatched by Pope Tawadros II to Jerusalem on 9 November is back home in Cairo. The bishops had gone to offer support and assistance to Anba Antonios, Coptic Metropolitan of Jerusalem, and to follow up closely on Deir as-Sultan Monastery crisis.
The bishops included Anba Danial, Bishop of Maadi and Secretary-General of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod; Anba Pimen, Bishop of Quos and Naqada, and the Church official in charge of relations between the Coptic and Ethiopian Churches; Anba Yulius, Bishop-General of Old Cairo churches; Anba Ghabrial, Bishop of Beni Sweif; and Kamel Michel, Coordinator-General of the Coptic Church for the case of Deir-as-Sultan Monastery.
The delegation members were welcomed by Anba Antonios who accompanied them to the Church of The Holy Sepulchre where they held Mass, and to Deir as-Sultan Monastery where he explained the details of the crisis and the attack against the Coptic monks last month. The delegation stopped and took photos in front of the doorway to Deir as-Sultan, the spot of the attack.
The bishops and Mr Michel met Egypt’s new Ambassador to Tel Aviv, Khaled Azmy, to discuss the issue of Deir as-Sultan Monastery; the meeting lasted four hours. Mr Azmy had last week met Pope Tawadros in Cairo, before taking office in Tel Aviv.
The Coptic Church’s Holy Synod had formed a committee supervised by Pope Tawadros to explore ways to resolve the Deir as-Sultan Monastery peacefully, in order to restore the Church’s historical and legal rights to the monastery through coordination with the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Deir as-Sultan is a 4th-century monastery built on the rooftop of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, that has been the property of the Coptic Church since the 7th century. Ethiopian monks hosted there by the Copts since the 17th century have attempted to seize it but were not allowed to by courts of law. In 1970, however, the Ethiopians succeeded in doing so with the help of the Israeli authorities which continued to support them despite a 1970 ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court In favour of the Copts.
The latest attempt by the Israelis to support the Ethiopians by working repairs to the monastery church in violation of the right of the Copts as owners of the place, took place last month, October 2018, and led to skirmishes between the Israeli police and Coptic monks who staged a peaceful protest at the door of the monastery.
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10 November 2018