13 February 2011
The recent demonstrations, the rioting and destruction, and the heavy losses incurred by the country, prompted many in Egypt to hold prayers appealing to God to protect Egypt and keep it safe and sound. Yet in all cases, and throughout its long history, the Coptic Church has prayed for Egypt, its land, climate, and Nile, as well as for its people and rulers; these prayers are woven in the text of its Holy Mass.
For his part, Pope Shenouda III expressed his grief at the destruction and plunder. In a statement broadcasted on Egyptian TV, His Holiness said that he was especially pained by news of an attempted attack on the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Egypt (CCHE)—known as 57357 hospital. “It was inhuman and offensive,” he said.
Pope Shenouda said he was proud of the courage with which Egypt’s young people fought for their rights and bravely defended their neighbourhoods.
“Love never fails”
Watani talked to Anba Moussa, the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Youth, about the recent events and how the Church viewed them. Anba Moussa said that, admittedly, the Church is composed of laymen and clergy. “Everyone is free,” he said, “to adopt whichever stance he or she believes in, and to express that in his or her own way. The Church has no intention, neither does it possess the authority, to prevent members of the congregation from doing so. For years now the Youth bishopric has been promoting free thinking and positive attitude among our young people. We have been constantly holding seminars and forums to discuss national and public issues through our National Participation movement. We have hosted Muslim and Christian intellectuals, politicians and media figures from all over Egypt to talk with our young people. The young were encouraged to freely adopt well-informed, well-aware viewpoints and attitudes.
“I was happy,” Anba Moussa added, “to see Egypt’s youth demonstrate to demand freedom, reform, and an end to corruption and unemployment.
“These young Egyptians,” he said, “were more often than not branded as passive and negligent, but they have proved how aware and responsible they are. Rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, educated and non-educated, they all stood together for the good of the nation. We all live on the banks of the River Nile, and should work to build a better future together.”
“Love never fails,” (1Cor 13:8) Anba Moussa reminded. “We need to build our country on the basis of citizenship, love and wisdom.”
Civil sate the answer
Anba Antonius Naguib, Patriarch of Coptic Catholic Church expressed his wishes for Egypt’s safety, praying for wisdom at such critical times. He said he was grateful to Egypt’s young men and Armed Forces for their efforts to keep the country safe and to protect the public.
Anba Yuhanna Qolta, the patrirarchal vicar of the Coptic Catholics, described the demonstrations as “courageous and fair. It marks a new dawn for Egypt,” he said. As to the answer to Egypt’s problems, “it is the civil state,” he said.
Father Rafik Greiche, the head of the press office of the Coptic Catholic Church, explained to Watani that the Church has no political stance. However, he said, young Christians have the right to express their opinion, and their demands should be heard.
Fro its part the Evangelical Church issued a statement asking all Egyptians to collaborate and stand against any forces that target Egypt, its safety and economy. The Rev Andrea Zaki, Vice President of the Evangelical Church of Egypt, said that the Church supports peaceful demonstrations and freedom of expression, but stands against violence and harm to the nation.