Coptic Church statement on Deir as-Sultan in response to Ethiopian Church claims

22-11-2018 08:57 PM

Marina Barsoum

The Coptic Church’ Holy Synod has issued a statement on its Jerusalem monastery of Deir as-Sultan. The statement says:

The Coptic Orthodox Church, founded in the first AD century by the great Saint Mark the Apostle, enjoys good relations with Churches all over the world. In the 4th century, Saint Athanasius the Apostolic [20th patriarch of Alexandria] dispatched Abune Salama to be the first Metropolitan of Ethiopia. Ever since, the the two Churches [the Coptic and the Ethiopian] have enjoyed relations based on mutual love, cooperation and respect. This was obvious through the interchange of amiable visits between their respective patriarchs in modern times.

The Coptic monastery of Deir as-Sultan is among the Coptic Church’s monasteries outside Egypt. The buildings of the monastery, and its elements and possessions reflect its Coptic identity, as all Coptic monasteries do. It is part of the Coptic Church’s properties in the Holy Land; it is adjacent to the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, the Antonian College, and the other possessions in the district. Coptic monasticism never ceased to exist in the Holy Land, and to date the monastery was never void of Coptic Egyptian monks. We thank the Lord that despite numerous attempts over the centuries to seize the monastery from the Coptic Church, that Church was able to retain the monastery; every single time court rulings came out in favour of the Coptic Orthodox Church’s taking hold of the monastery and all its possessions.

Even when the last attack [against Coptic sovereignty over the monastery] took place on 25 April 1970, the Supreme Court of Israel, the highest court in the country, issued on 16 March 1971 a ruling in favour of the Coptic Church for [based on] the documents that prove her ownership and custody of the monastery as a permanent legal status in the Holy Land. Unfortunately, however, the ruling authority in Israel refused to execute the court ruling. We hereby confirm that Deir as-Sultan has always been one of the sacred sites of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the Holy Land, and of every Egyptian in the entire world.

Regarding the statement issued on 5 November 2018, by our sister Tawahedo Church of Ethiopia on Deir as-Sultan, we distance ourselves from commenting on the unjust accusations, abusive offenses and historical falsifications that it included concerning the ownership and custody of the Coptic Deir as-Sultan.

We would like to thank all who contributed in preserving the Coptic Egyptian identity of Deir as- Sultan. We value the role played by the Egyptian government and all its apparatuses in preserving this monastery as Egyptian territory. We thank the Lord that the ruling issued by the Israeli shalom court on 28 October 2018 restricted the restoration in Deir as-Sultan to the hazardous parts in the church of Michael Archangel, and for this to be carried out under supervision of an engineer assigned by the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The Coptic Orthodox Church is a biblical patristic Church that deals with issues of conflict in a spirit of love, prayer and peace the Bible teaches: “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).

To conclude, we pray to the Lord that peace may reign in all corners of the world, and especially in the Holy Land where the angels sang: Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill towards men”.

21 November 2018 AD, 12 Hator 1735 AM

Watani International

22 November 2018

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