Upon official invitation, Pope Tawadros II has taken part in the monthly meeting of the ambassadors of Asian countries in Egypt. He was asked to give the main speech on the Egyptian Coptic Church and its history.
The meeting was held at the Japanese ambassador’s house, and attended by ambassadors and officials from Japan, China, Australia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Malaysia, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and a number of other countries.
Pope Tawadros spoke of the history of the Coptic Church, which built on the ancient Egyptian civilisation from which other civilisations were emerged.
“The Egyptian Coptic Church has behind it an old history that goes back to the Old Testament and its prophecies; prophecies that were fulfilled in the New Testament.
“One of our Coptic Church’s roots is represented by the prophecy in Isaiah 19:19, which came some 700 years before the birth of Christ, and which says: ‘In that day there will be an altar in the midst of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border’. We believe that this altar refers to the Coptic faith cherished in the heart of Egypt, and the Lord’s pillar as the lighthouse that spread this faith.
“Verse 25 in the same chapter of Isaiah says: ‘The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people’. Egypt was indeed blessed when it sheltered the Holy Family as it took refuge in our land from the wrath of Herod the King. The Holy Family travelled throughout Egypt from east to west, north to south, and abundantly blessed it.
“St Mark the Apostle and Gospel writer brought Christianity to Egypt in 55AD and wrote our first Coptic Mass. He became the first Patriarch in the history of the Coptic Church,” Pope Tawadros said.
The Pope also referred to the four main pillars upon which the Coptic Church was established. “In Alexandria, the first ever Christian theological school at the hands of St Mark. It was re-established in in modern times in 1893, and today has expanded with several branches inside and outside Egypt.
The second is it is a Church built on the blood of the martyrs. The first martyr was St Mark who was brutally killed in 68AD. Our Church is today again witnessing incidents of martyrdom [at the hands of Islamic extremist groups such as Daesh, also known as ISIL or ISIS].
The third pillar, the Pope said, is monasticism. “Monasticism was founded in the third century by the Egyptian Anba Antonius, the first of the Christian monks. Today, there are many Coptic monasteries inside and outside Egypt.”
The fourth pillar is the powerful ecumenical movement which translates into dialogue with many churches. “We are members of the World Council of Churches, the Council of Middle Eastern Churches and the African Council of Churches. In 2013, the Egypt Council of Churches was established.
“In its national and patriotic—not political—capacity, our Coptic Church supports endeavours done by the Egyptian State and President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to build a modern Egypt, a country of peace and a source of peace to the whole world,” he said.
26 September 2017