The Coptic Orthodox Church spokesperson, Fr Boulos Halim, has posted on the Church’s official page a statement which declared that the ex-monk Ishaia’ al-Maqari was defrocked [yesterday] because of purely monastic violations. His defrocking, the statement insisted, had nothing to do with the murder on 29 July of Anba Epiphanius who was Abbot of St Macarius Monastery in Wadi al-Natroun in Egypt’s Western Desert, and who was brutally killed as he left his cell and headed to church for Midnight Praise. Police investigations into the murder are still ongoing, and no charges have been officially made against anyone.
The statement said that an enquiry had been made by the Committee of Monastic and Monastery Affairs, early in 2018, into the Ishaia’ al-Maqari reported violation of the monastic laws of obedience and poverty, and his refusal to deal with the Abbot or his deputy, or to carry any responsibility he was asked to burden. The report, which had been presented to Pope Tawadros, said that Ishaia’ al-Maqari was set to form a hostile front in the monastery against the Abbot. The Committee then took a decision that the monk should be removed from the monastery for three years. A group of St Macarius monks, however, signed a petition asking for Ishaia’ al-Maqari to remain in the monastery, and pledged to help him repent and correct his erroneous behaviour. The then Abbot, Anba Epiphanius, whraised the petition to Pope Tawadros, with a plea to accept it. The Pope duly accepted.
Unfortunately, the recent statement said, nothing changed since the petition was accepted; Ishaia’ al-Maqari persisted in his violations, and the Committee had to defrock him.
When Anba Epiphanius was murdered, many on social media speculated that the defrocking was connected to the crime. The current statement absolutely denied this.