As has become his custom, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi visited the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital as Christmas Eve’s Midnight Mass was set to start on 6 January 2024. Copts celebrate Christmas, the Feast of the Nativity, on 7 January.
The President was received by Pope Tawadros II who accompanied him into the Cathedral where the congregation welcomed him with the usual warm boisterous applause, joyful ululations by the women, and cries of “we love you Sisi”. Many waved Egyptian flags and bent forward to shake the President’s hand, which he joyfully did, beaming at them.
When the President and Pope finally ascended the steps to the spacious chancel, the nave of the deacons before the sanctuary, President Sisi offered a bouquet of white roses to Pope Tawadros who reciprocated with a souvenir gift.
The President then faced the congregation and wished them a happy feast and a happy new year 2024 which he prayed may see an end to the difficult times the entire world has been going through since 2020. “Currently,” he said, “we are living through the worst crisis of all: that which takes place in Gaza and the West Bank. Egypt insists on taking a “respectful” position; we call for a ceasefire and for the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, also for a definitive resolution of the Palestinian cause. Failure to find a conclusive solution to that cause leads to painful crises erupting every few years.”
President Sisi stressed that Egypt is capable of overcoming all difficulties as long as Egyptians are united on the “heart of one man”.
The President then faced Pope Tawadros to express great respect and appreciation for all Copts and for the Pope personally. He said there was great affection between him and Pope Tawadros, an affection that emanated from stances taken by the Pope during difficult times, “stances that can only be assumed by a faithful man who loves his country and people. I have seen this countless times on the part of Pope Tawadros; I respect and appreciate him immensely for that, I wish him good health, and thank him for what he always did and will continue to do.”
8 January 2024