Pope Tawadros II, while on his current visit to Germany, has given an interview to
MESat, the official satellite channel of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Highlights of the Q & A:
+Will Your Holiness talk to us about the Coptic Church in Germany?
++Germany is the country which received the earliest wave of Coptic emigration in the 1950s and 1960s, perhaps even earlier. If the German language were as widespread in Egypt as English, more emigrants would probably have landed in Germany.
I am happy with our Church here, and proud of the efforts of her bishops: Anba Demian, and Anba Mishail, as well the priests and monks who serve with them. They all are doing their very best for the congregation.
The Coptic Church works to maintain strong bonds among Egyptians here, and fosters good connections with the motherland, Egypt.
+Your Holiness has consecrated a number of Coptic Orthodox churches in Germany. How are these churches established?
++First, Egyptians look for a place in which a community may hold worship. They rent or purchase a building or church which they find suitable, and prepare it to comply with the Coptic tradition, making sure to fit it with icons, and use it for worship. The last step is to consecrate that church; in other words to give this place a ‘birth certificate’ as a church.
+Many people wonder how you manage to travel so much and go through a grueling schedule day in day out, despite health problems and sometimes obvious fatigue.
++Positive service gives pleasure to the mind and comfort to the soul. My responsibility is to visit my sons and daughters everywhere and to meet them; to have good, strong ties with them. Physical pain and fatigue are transient; they can be overcome with some rest.
+Your Holiness has participated in the recent official inspection ceremony of Muhammad Naguib Military Base in Egypt after its recent modernisation. Will you tell us your impression on the event?
I was invited by Mr President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, together with high ranking State officials and governors. It was the first time for me to visit a military base. I also found it remarkable that university students keenly took part in the event, displaying harmonious interaction among Egypt’s people, police, and military. The Muhammad Naguib Military Base is a pride for all Egyptians; it is located in al-Hammam, some 70km west of Alexandria, and is reportedly the largest in the Middle East, consisting of 1,155 buildings and facilities.
The military base serves as headquarters for Egypt’s Northern Military Unit, which aims to protect areas west of Alexandria, the North Coast, the currently under-construction Dabaa nuclear power plant, oil fields, New Alamein city, and other sites.
+The Coptic Orthodox Endowments Authority has been established according to a presidential decree. Will you please tell us about that?
++The authority was originally established in 1960. It is formed of six Coptic clergy and six laymen. The Patriarch is chairman of the board and nominates candidates for membership of the Authority. Accordingly, a presidential decree is issued naming the members.
We have already convened earlier this month, and elected a secretary; also formed a committee to develop the mission of the Endowments Authority. Coptic endowments are a source of income to the Church, and they finance her activities.
+Do You need to play a political role in Egypt for the sake of the Coptic Church?
++I am no politician. Historically, the Coptic Church has always been a national Church. Copts are Egyptians; and I am an Egyptian citizen. We enjoy the same rights as all Egyptians, and are committed to the same duties. This is what we call ‘citizenship rights’ to which we are entitled and bound in responsibility.
+How do you act once you learn of attacks against churches in Egypt?
++Not all what I do or say is publicised. Whenever a crisis occurs in any church, we get in touch with the Bishop or priest in charge and together we decide on the best course to take, and whether to issue a statement. I also have my connections with the security authorities and the local government.
+Regarding the July 2018 murder of Anba Epiphanius, Abbot of St Macarius Monastery in Wadi Natroun in Egypt’s Western Desert, we wish to know the most recent news about the case?
++The murder was a crime that gained great public attention because it took place in a monastery and, sadly, the victim was the abbot. [Two monks have been found guilty and sentenced to death by the criminal court.] We are praying that the killers should repent because, no matter what, their eternal life is at stake.
21 May 2019