In his weekly prayer meeting with the congregation, which on Wednesday 31 May was held at the church of the Holy Virgin and Anba Bishoi on the grounds of St Mark’s Cathedral in Abbassiya, Cairo; Pope Tawadros spoke of the violence waged by Islamists against the Copts in Egypt.
He began by commenting on the shooting to death of busloads of Copts heading to the desert monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Mount Qalamoun, Minya, some 230km south of Cairo, which on 26 May 2017 claimed 28 lives. He said: “We remember our brothers, sisters, and children, who recently lost their lives on account of their faith. We honour their strong spirits and steadfast souls, and are comforted that God chose for them to end their lives while on their way to the monastery where prayer and peace of heart are found. They were most probably fasting as Copts usually do when they head to a monastery, for blessings and to partake of Holy Communion in Mass. So they were well prepared to end their lives on a sublime spiritual note. Despite the cruelty with which they were killed, they met death by testifying to their faith.”
The pride of our Church
Pope Tawadros stressed that despite the bitterness, cruelty, and suffering, we believe that God controls matters from beginning to end; “‘For in Him we live and move and have our being’. He is the Pantocrator; He sees everything: the violence, terrorism, and crime. And He grants everyone the opportunity to repent. God is patient, but only He has the last say,” the Pope said.
“We received condolences from inside and outside Egypt; from President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi; also from presidents, patriarchs, and Church leaders.
The Egyptian air strikes against the terrorists’ camps and administration in Libya, Pope Tawadros said, served to avenge Egypt in her entirety not only her Copts. He affirmed that Egypt stands united in her people, Muslim and Christian. “Our time-honoured coexistence,” he said, “paints the completeness of Egypt; we none of us can manage without the other.
“This is why we call for sanity and reason in this war against terrorism. Egypt’s body is bleeding and, medically, bleeding is the most serious and threatening condition ever.
“Please be aware that fire can never be extinguished by fire but by water. I expect the authorities to do their duty in full. In the meantime, we need be collected, calm, and patient, and to think before every word we say.
“I had a long phone call with the Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdel-Aal. We agreed that there must be no tolerance with extremist thought because it is the root cause of the violence. Egypt is every one of us; we are all responsible for her.”
The modern-day martyrs and confessors and their stoic families, the Pope said, are the pride of our Church; in them we read a live addition to our Synaxarium which tells the history of the martyrs and saints throughout time.
4 June 2017