The church of Pope Kyrillos and Archdeacon Habib Girgis in the north Cairo district of Shubral-Kheima reopened last week after three months of closure. Anba Marcos, Bishop of Shubral-Kheima, celebrated Mass there last week to mark Jonah’s Feast; he also consecrated the altar utensils.
The church was closed last November when rumours circulated that fanatics Muslims would attack the church after Friday noon prayers on 10 November. The Coptic congregation, fearing closure, staged a sit-in at the church and conducted a sleepover there on the evening of 9 November. But Anba Marcos persuaded them to leave, opting for a peaceful solution and promising he would resolve the matter with the local security officials. Friday brought no attack against the church, but it was closed for security fears.
Even though the church is unfinished, it has been used for worship for the last two years, and is among the thousands of de-facto churches that were built without licence before the 2016 law for building churches was passed. Back then, Copts resorted to worshipping in non-licensed buildings because of the near-impossibility of obtaining licence to build churches whereas the population growth created a dire need for more churches. The Shubral-Kheima church is among those that have officially requested legalisation of status once the 2016 law came into effect. An official inspection committee visited the church to assess the building, but no final decision has been as yet announced.
4 February 2018