The Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod’s Committee of Parish affairs has rejected a request made by Anba Abra’am, Bishop of Fayoum, for an indefinite retreat at the desert monastery of Anba Bishoi. Approval of the request would have implicitly relieved the Bishop of all his pastoral duties.
The Committee said that there was nothing in the Church rules or traditions that allow for a bishop, who is spiritually tied to his parish in a relation equivalent to marriage, to relinquish his service.
Anba Abra’am had on 15 July 2017 asked permission of Pope Tawadros II for an indefinite retreat in his cell in the Western Desert monastery of Anba Bishoi. The request implied he would be relieved of his responsibilities as bishop after 32 years of service in that capacity.
A statement by the Church two days ago said that Pope Tawadros had met Anba Abra’am and had a long talk with him but could not persuade him to change his mind. The Bishop had already been in a two-month-long retreat and wished to extend it indefinitely. Another meeting that included Anba Sarapamon, Abbot of Anba Bishoi’s; and Anba Raphail, Secretary-General of the Holy Synod; did not achieve any different result.
Pope Tawadros referred the matter to the Holy Synod’s committee of parochial affairs, but also said he was hoping Anba Abra’am would agree to stay on as bishop in his parish. Whichever way, the Church statement said, and whatever the final decision, Anba Abra’am would remain an honoured, highly-esteemed member of the Holy Synod.
Large numbers of Fayoum congregation headed to Anba Bishoi monastery where they demonstrated, demanding of their bishop to stay on.
Anba Abra’am holds a PhD in history. He took orders 40 years ago, and served in Dubai and as supervisor of the Clerical College in Cairo before he was consecrated Bishop of Fayoum in 1985.
27 August 2017