Following week-long meetings at Logos Centre in the Western Desert Monastery of Anba Bishoy in Wadi al-Natroun some 120km northwest Cairo, the members of the various committees of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod met in a plenary session in which they passed the final decisions and resolutions. Participating in the session were 113 of the 128 members of the Holy Synod.
The Synod took a decision to officially recognise two monasteries and a convent: the Monastery of St Hermina the Hermit in Assiut, the Monastery of the Holy Virgin and St John the Beloved on Ismailiya Road, and the Convent of the Holy Virgin and St John the Beloved in Ohio, US.
The Holy Synod approved a number of recommendations made by its committees. Among them was a recommendation by the Main Committee for Parish Affairs to delay the seating of new bishops one to three months after consecration, during which period a new bishop may devote his time to study and exchange of experience with other bishops.
The Parish Affairs Committee also recommended establishment of a fund through voluntary contributions from all parishes to support the more needy ones, as per the biblical principle: “And all that believed were together, and had all things common,” (Acts 2: 44). The recommendation was approved by the Synod, as was another that called for setting up a curriculum for consecrated men and virgins to guide them in the services they undertake, and encouraging them to take up complimentary and higher studies in their fields of service.
The Holy Synod approved recommendations by the Main Committee for Family Affairs:
- Merging the Institute of the Elderly with the Institute of Care.
- Establishing a home for the elderly in every parish, and holding a weekly prayer meeting for the elderly in all churches.
- Considering the addition of the “matrimonial pledge”, to be said by the bridegroom and bride, to the matrimonial service ritual.
- Establishing a sub-committee concerned with the care for women and all their needs.
Care and service
The Main Committee for Care and Service recommended setting up a database and active network to link together the parish charity committees and the central patriarchal charity committee. The recommendation was approved. It also recommended that topics of psychological health and fighting addiction should be added to the curriculum of theological colleges and religious institutes; also the application of a programme for the early detection of disability. Both recommendations were approved by the Synod.
Faith and education
The Main Committee for Faith and Education’s recommendations to form a committee to draft a constitution of faith for the Coptic Orthodox Church, and to form a sub-committee for monitoring and checking material pertaining to the Christian faith posted on social media or platforms were approved. The latter would be concerned with spotting, checking, and correcting erroneous views or teachings on faith circulated electronically, and would be headed by Anba Hedra, Metropolitan of Aswan.
For its part, the Committee for Ecumenical Relations and Dialogue recommended drafting an ecumenical map of the Coptic Orthodox Church’s relations and dialogue with other Churches, and setting up a digital record to document the outcome of such dialogue. The recommendation was approved.
Recommendations by the Main Committee for Rituals that the hymn Alli al-Orban be said during Mass all year round, and that the hymns Onaym Nam and Ya Kul al-Sofouf be sung only from the Feast of the Resurrection to that of the Assumption, were approved.
Public Relations, media, monastic affairs
The Main Committee for Public Relations proposed that the curriculum of Church education, as well as its platforms and media, should highlight the patriotic role played by the Church fathers, clergy and laity, and their impact on and contribution to the Egyptian society.
The Committee for Media and Information recommended that the Church should nurture gifted children, establish an information bank for the Coptic Orthodox Church, that would include all Church sciences, and record the hagiography of the Coptic Orthodox Church’s patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and priests during the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Main Committee for Monastic Affairs and Monasteries proposed publishing a book to document Coptic Orthodox monasteries inside and outside Egypt.
The Holy Synod approved all.
The Main Committee for Diaspora Affairs recommended that, in case a pastoral need arises among the diaspora for exceptions to the Church’s laws and sacred tradition, the priest concerned must refer to the bishop of his parish, and the bishop may go back to His Holiness the Pope. The recommendation was approved.
Finally, the Standing Committee decided that the Pope should form the Clerical Education Council as the first step in activating the Theological Academy Bylaws.