Would the Church go back to the Constituent Assembly?

24-11-2012 04:16 PM

Mariam Rifaat

The three main Churches in Egypt: the Coptic Orthodox, Coptic Catholic, and Evangelical held a meeting yesterday evening to decide on their stance vis-à-vis the request by President

Mursi to reconsider their withdrawal from the Constituent Assembly (CA) which is currently writing a draft for Egypt’s new constitution.
The Churches had jointly withdrawn from the CA last Friday—two days before the seating of the new Coptic Orthodox patriarch, Pope Tawadros II. 
They cited as reason that the CA had deviated form its original task of writing a consensual constitution expressive of all Egyptians, and had been instead hegemonised by one political stream, the Islamist. The Churches said they had worked hard to cooperate with the efforts to write a new constitution, and had arduously tried to iron out differences and reach a consensual version, until it was absolutely clear that “a single political current” [the Islamist] was imposing its vision, to the exclusion of all other components of the Egyptian community. 
The decision to withdraw was taken during a meeting over which the then acting patriarch Anba Pachomeus presided, and in which 70 constitutional and legal experts and intellectuals took part. When the withdrawal decision was put to the vote, 60 voted for the Church’s withdrawal, five voted for freezing its membership in the assembly, and five voted for proceeding with the CA.
In a meeting between President Mursi and Pope Tawadros last Wednesday, the President suggested a meeting on Friday between a number of CA members and Church representatives, to mull over the differences and reach common ground. “The final decision is in our hands,” the Pope said. “We will listen to them and, if the result achieves a consensual vision, this is what we are after.” 
Friday’s meeting, however, did not take place; but the representatives of the three Churches decided to form a committee to write a detailed report on their reservations and objections to the draft constitution, to be ready if or when any discussion arises on the issue. It is expected that the report should be out by next Monday.
Watani International
24 November 2012
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