Archbishops pledge ‘committed solidarity’ with Christian leaders in Egypt
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have joined the call for prayers for unity, reconciliation and an end to violence in Egypt.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu wrote to the Coptic and Anglican leaders in Egypt pledging their 'committed solidarity' amid the recent turmoil in the country.
Writing to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and to the Most Rev'd Mouneer Anis, the President-Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Archbishops said they had been 'very mindful of recent developments taking place in Egypt' as they presided over the Church of England's General Synod in York.
They added that they were 'very grateful' for the presence at Synod of Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, who attended as an ecumenical observer and spoke powerfully of the present situation in Egypt and his hopes for reconciliation.
The Archbishops wrote: 'As Presidents of the General Synod, we are sending this message of committed solidarity with you at this time. We join in the call to pray for Egypt for unity and reconciliation and the ending to all violence, praying that all parties may be able to work together for a common future.'
They added: 'May the Lord grant you grace and strength in this ministry of reconciliation.'
All of which is well and good, if circumspect and a tad prolix.
In Egypt there has been a considerable increase in the persecution of Christians, and of the Copts in particular. Only last week a man and his nephew were beaten senseless with clubs and sliced with axes by Islamist hordes. The boy survived (just): his uncle died. And in that same week a six-year-old Coptic Christian boy, Cyril Yusuf Sa’ad, was kidnapped and held for ransom. After his family paid the ransom, the Muslim kidnapper killed the boy and threw his body in the sewer of his house.
A few weeks ago, 10-year-old Sameh George, an altar boy at the Coptic church of St Abdul Masih (Servant of Christ) in Minya, Egypt, was kidnapped by 'unknown persons' (but you can guess the professed faith). His parents and family reported it was his custom to go to church and worship in the evening, but when he did not return they received an anonymous phone call from the kidnappers, saying that they had the boy in their possession and would execute him unless they received 250,000 Egyptian pounds (c£25,000) in ransom money.
Abduction, entrapment, sexual harassment, rape, and the forced conversion of Christians are becoming more commonplace in Egypt.
What a pity that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York did not use this declaration to highlight succinctly and directly our persecuted brothers and sisters in Egypt and throughout the region, where Christians are being systematically 'cleansed'. If one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it (1 Cor 12:26).