The Coptic Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod, headed by Pope Tawadros II, concluded a busy week of activities with its annual assembly on 9 June 2022.
The first of the Synod’s activities took place on Saturday and Sunday 4 and 5 June with the consecration of ten new bishops to serve the Coptic Church inside and outside Egypt.
On Monday 6 June, the Synod’s main committees started their separate meetings at the papal headquarters in Abassiya, Cairo, discussing their agendas over three days. The committees were concerned with pastoral care; ministry; family; public relations; parish affairs; rites; faith, teaching, and legislation; ecumenical relations; media and information; monasticism and monasteries; expatriate affairs; also the steering committee and the Synod secretariat committee.
On 9 June, the Holy Synod’s final general session ran at Logos Centre at the papal headquarters in Anba Bishoy Monastery in Wadi al-Natroun in the Western Desert. Pope Tawadros chaired the session in which 120 of the total 137 members of the Synod participated.
The session started with a word by the Pope on “Aspects of episcopal responsibility”.
Over four hours, the Synod discussed in detail the synodal decisions and resolutions it finally issued, major among which are the following decisions:
• Canonising the monk Fr Yustus al-Antoni (1910 – 1976) known as the Silent Monk, of St Antony Monastery in the Eastern Desert off the Red Sea; and Fr Bishoy Kamel (1931 – 1979) of Mar-Girgis (St George) Church in Sporting, Alexandria.
• Relics of saints are not to be conveyed except with an official document authenticated by the relevant bishop, and only in response to an official request signed by a bishop.
• Forming an ecclesiastical teaching board, and a Coptic Theological Academy board. Suggested nominations from among doctoral and masters degree holders are to be submitted to the Synod’s secretariat.
As to the resolutions, they included:
• Encouraging the congregation, especially the young, to take active part in activities pertaining to Egypt’s new republic, and to support official efforts at development endeavours, such as the presidential initiative Haya Karima, literally Decent Life, which works to achieve a sea change in Egyptian villages through holistic development.
• Encouraging churches to celebrate Fathers Day on 21 June of every year, the date recently set in Egypt.
• Setting a unified date to celebrate Coptic heritage in all Coptic Orthodox churches on 1 June every year, which coincides with the Feast of the Entry of the Holy Family into Egypt. Celebrations will come under the theme “Global Coptic Day”, and would serve to present the Coptic Church and the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt to the whole world through activities such as international competitions on Coptic heritage.
• Declaring the year June 2022 -June 2023 as the “My Family is Holy” year, during which Coptic churches would introduce activities that revolve around that theme.
Pope Tawadros urged the Synod members to give special care to poor families and to those who do not technically qualify as “poor” but do not have the means to weather hard economic conditions, and to especially promote and support micro projects to help such families face the current harsh global economic crisis.
He also encouraged special focus on environmental hazards and climate change, urging the various dioceses to work on fostering innovative work on that front.
Finally, the Synod agreed to renew another three-year term for its current secretariat.
10 June 2022