Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Church of England General Synod Panel on violence against minorities in Syria and Iraq


On 18 November 2014 His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom participated in a panel discussion chaired by the Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, on violence against minorities in Iraq and Syria. The panel discussion took place during The Church of England General Synod, and the other panellists were: The Bishop of Leeds, The Rt Revd Nicholas Baines, The Revd Rachel Carnegie, Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance and Shaykh Fuad Nahdi, Executive Director of the Radical Middle Way.

As moderator of the panel, The Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, The Bishop of Coventry began proceedings by framing the discussion as one that should deal with listening to each other and ascertaining how the brokenness in the Middle East, in particular Iraq and Syria, has come about and what appropriate action can be taken in response.

During the discussion His Grace Bishop Angaelos spoke of the need to keep the plight of those suffering in the Middle East in the forefront of prayers and advocacy efforts despite a constant shift in media focus and narrative. He made mention of the urgent need for humanitarian aid for those in Iraq and Syria as well as the safeguarding of their religious freedom, saying:

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other such agreements merely safeguard God-given liberties. Since the basis of our freedom is found in Scripture we have the credibility and responsibility as the Church to advocate for all regardless of religious affiliation.”

Bishop Angaelos spoke of those in Iraq and Syria who desire to continue living in their homelands despite the persecution faced, as well as others who are asking to leave and are seeking asylum in Great Britain. He went on to say that in responding to the situation decision makers must not be prescriptive but directly responsive to these people and their needs. Going on to clarify that if they feel that they have a viable presence then they must be supported there, but if they feel unable to continue due to risks upon them, their families and communities, then we must provide the means for their relocation by granting them asylum where we can. His Grace also expressed his thanks to Her Majesty’s government and humanitarian organisations for providing support and aid to those in need.

In response to the notion presented that there is no compulsion in religion and in answer to the question “Is there a future for these communities to continue to live together?” Bishop Angaelos expressed that it is unquestionable that there is evidence of compulsion and even retribution for some of those who wish to live, practice and choose their faith freely. He also stressed the need for prominent leaders within Muslim communities to condemn these violations and encourage a greater openness and acceptance. Bishop Angaelos concluded by saying that while there is a radical and vocal fringe, when the Christian voice is added to an accepting and embracing Muslim voice this is a sizeable, powerful and effective majority.

Lastly His Grace spoke of the essential need for a message of solidarity and unity from the Church in the United Kingdom, referring to the Body of Christ as a means of support and strength for all those suffering persecution in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. His Grace emphasized the need to cease using the artificial discrepancy of referring to the ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ Church, going on to say that the Church must, now more than ever, speak and respond to the suffering of those in the Middle East in a collective and unified manner.
Shaykh Fuad Nahdi spoke of the persecution of Christians as heinous and unacceptable for any human being, speaking of the importance of coexistence saying:

“We must share the example about coexistence and show compassion, but above all things we must fight ignorance.”

The Rt Revd Nicholas Baines, who has previously written a letter to The Rt Honourable Prime Minister David Cameron in response to the situation in Iraq and Syria, spoke of the importance of not only being reactive but having a long-term view in responding to the crisis. In answering a question regarding the importance of media reporting, he said:

“Religious literacy is needed in the media. We need also to praise them when they report well. We must remember that journalists are also losing their lives and we need to pray and support them.”

The Revd Rachel Carnegie spoke about horrifying reports of individuals who are being persecuted for their faith in Syria and Iraq, while also speaking about the hopeful initiatives and work of those who are providing humanitarian assistance in the region and urging the Church to continue in prayer for those suffering, saying:

“We must continue to pray as prayer becomes the foundation of our response, for protection, provision, and perseverance.’

The session was closed with prayer by The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Press Release: HH Pope Tawadros II received by HH Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia


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29 October 2014

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His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, accompanied by a papal delegation, was received by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at the Russian Patriarchate on 29 October 2014. 

The visit, that included a formal meeting of delegations, followed by lunch, marks 26 years since the most recent visit of the last Pope of Alexandria, His Holiness, the late Pope Shenouda III.

During the meeting at the Patriarchate, His Holiness Pope Tawadros spoke of the great heritage of spirituality and monastic tradition within the Russian Orthodox Church and commented on its contemporary role and influence, suggesting that:

“Collaboration between our Churches will be of great value to our people, both in Egypt and Russia, and a symbol of proactive unity to the whole world.”

The two heads of Churches discussed various matters including contemporary social life, pastoral care, education and issues of morality, while also touching on the current events affecting both Egypt and Russia.

During the meeting, a joint bilateral committee was established to be headed by His Grace Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles and His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations in Moscow. They will present a proposed plan to Pope Tawadros and Patriarch Kirill regarding conversation and collaboration on spiritual living, pastoral care, education and social ministry between the Churches. 

Outside the Patriarchate in Moscow, Bishop Angaelos said:

“This has been a very positive meeting with a spirit that desires collaboration and a deepening of relationships. We have seen the heads of these two ancient and significant Churches side by side and speaking with almost identical words of hope, unity and collaboration. This is only the beginning of what I am sure will prove to be an even deeper, stronger, and more effective relationship between our Churches. We pray that this spirit be conveyed to our faithful and that it may be replicated in all of our ecumenical and inter-Church relationships.”

Earlier that day Pope Tawadros, accompanied by the Coptic Orthodox delegation and His Excellency Dr Mahmoud El-Badry, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Russian Federation, was received by the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Sergey Lavrov at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow.  

During the meeting with His Holiness, the Foreign Minister said:

“This is a historic visit because, with respect to all history and previous visits, it is the first visit of the Coptic Orthodox Pope to what is now the Russian Federation, and we welcome you, while at the same time recognising the great role of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and the Middle East region.” 

Throughout the duration of his stay Pope Tawadros will visit a number of significant Russian Orthodox churches and monasteries, while also undertaking various official and pastoral engagements with the Coptic faithful.

Accompanying His Holiness is a delegation comprising Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta and Their Graces: Bishop Raphael, General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles, Bishop Kyrillos of Milan, Papal Exarch in Europe, Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom and Papal secretary Father Angelos Ishak and official spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Fr Boules Haleem. 


*Ends*

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Press Release: His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Russia for historic visit

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For immediate use
28 October 2014

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Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
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His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, accompanied by a papal delegation, arrived in Russia on 28 October 2014 ahead of a historic visit. 



HH Pope Tawadros will visit His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on 29 October 2014, marking 26 years since the visit of the previous Pope of Alexandria, His Holiness the late Pope Shenouda III, who had participated in the celebration of the Millennium of the Christianisation of Russia and the baptism of St Vladimir.

His Holiness was met at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations in Moscow and His Excellency Dr Mahmoud El-Badry, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Russian Federation, as well as Their Graces Bishop Kyrillos of Milan, Papal Exarch in Europe, and Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.

Accompanying Pope Tawadros is a delegation comprising Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta and Their Graces: Bishop Raphael, General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles and Papal secretary Father Angelos Ishak and official spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Fr Boules Haleem. 


From Moscow, Bishop Angaelos said:

“This fraternal visit is important because it marks the first visit of a Coptic Pope to Russia in 26 years and marks and demonstrates the depth of relationship between our two Churches and the many commonalities we share in our heritage and experience.”
Pope Tawadros will be received at the Egyptian Embassy on the evening of the 28 October 2014, and will undertake various official visits and pastoral engagements throughout the duration of his stay.

*Ends*

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Press Release: HRH The Prince of Wales sends message to the CopticOrthodox Community in the UK as they celebrate new year in StMargaret's Church, Westminster Abbey


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22 October 2014



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Photographs from the event can be viewed HERE

 
The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom celebrated the Feast of Nayrouz, marking the new Coptic Year in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey on 21 October 2014, with a sermon by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and messages from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, The Right Honourable David Cameron Prime Minister, and the Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
 
Speaking of his recent visit to The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in the United Kingdom, HRH The Prince of Wales praised:

“the dedication and commitment of the Coptic faithful in contributing to the life of the Church, and of this country, in many ways, some unseen and unheard.”

Going on to say:

“I very much share your deep concern for all those still facing grave challenges across North Africa and the Middle East…The Coptic Orthodox community in Egypt and, indeed, Christians across the Middle East, have often proved themselves to be those who build bridges between different groups and religions. They have shown great forbearance and longsuffering despite the on-going persecution they face, providing a humbling example of what it is to be a faithful Christian.”

In his message, Prime Minister David Cameron said:


“As our Coptic communities mark Nayrouz today, we celebrate the fantastic contribution they make to our country and we think of the many Christian communities around the world for whom this New Year is a time of fear and suffering.”

Speaking in support of the Coptic Orthodox Community, the Prime Minister went on to say:

“We call for unity in support of tolerance, in standing up for the rights of people of all faiths and backgrounds and in promoting the building blocks of democracy as the long-term basis to defeat extremism in the region…we stand alongside the Coptic Church and other Christian churches in the Middle East in pursuing these values, treasuring the long history and deep roots of these churches and their commitment to the common good.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in his message said:


“My prayer for all the faithful of the Coptic Church is that the coming year will bring peace and hope. In situations of crisis and conflict may the primacy of our inter church relations as Christians standing together and praying for one another provide us with the wisdom, courage and strength in Christ to dialogue, clarify, act and heal.”

In his sermon, Bishop Angaelos spoke of the responsibility and obligation of Christians to advocate for religious freedom for all, saying:

“Freedom is a responsibility and an obligation that we have been given by God and must take seriously. We must, when we can, speak the truth; it is not an option. We must look at the freedom we have today in standing and praying together, and seek to use that freedom to benefit all those who are not able to do the same.”

Speaking of the defiance and resolve of many who suffer gross violations of their religious freedom, he said:

“We are reminded that in the midst of this immense darkness there is an incredible light, witness, example, power, and victory. What appears to be death and defeat is actually defiance and victory for, in the cases of many of these people, it is a greater victory to have died for their Faith than to have given it up to continue otherwise. While this may be the case, and they may be defiant and victorious, we must also continue to actively advocate for them.
The unity that we express today in standing side by side for those less fortunate or free than ourselves will be a testimony to encourage us and them that they are not forgotten. We stand here in the confidence that God hears our prayers and the cries of all who call upon Him, reminded in Exodus 3:7 “I have surely seen the oppression of My people…and have heard their cry…for I know their sorrows.”

After the messages were read there was a greeting by Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain followed by addresses from The Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, and The Lord Alton of Liverpool.

The Revd Canon Andrew Tremlett, Canon of Westminster and Rector of St Margaret's church welcomed all to the service which was attended by the Dean and Chapter of Wesminster, members of the House of Lords, House of Commons, members of the diplomatic corps and various ecumenical and official guests, as well as members of the Coptic community in the United Kingdom.



*Ends*


Photographs from the event can be viewed HERE

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Press Release: Coptic Service in St Margaret's Westminster Abbey re International Religious Freedom

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21 October 2014

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His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom will address members of the House of Lords, House of Commons, members of the diplomatic core and various ecumenical and official guests on matters of international religious freedom and the plight of Christians in the Middle East during a Coptic service at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey on 21 October 2014.

The service will commemorate the Coptic Feast of Nayrouz, marking the new Coptic Year in remembrance of the martyrs of the past two millennia and those who continue to suffer for their Faith to date.

In the lead up to the service, Bishop Angaelos said:

“It is a blessing to celebrate this new Coptic year with friends representing the wider Christian family, other religions and the broader civic society in which we live. This is an opportunity for us all to raise our hearts in prayer for those suffering gross violations of religious freedom in Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East, as well as Nigeria and other places currently overcome by conflict. We will stand in fellowship in the historic church of St Margaret’s Westminster, to mark a significant contribution at a time when unity and collaborative effort are increasingly needed.”

During the service there will be addresses from members of parliament, and messages will be delivered from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, The Right Honourable David Cameron Prime Minister, The Most Reverend Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, with a greeting by Archbishop Antonio Mennini.

*Ends*


Friday, 12 September 2014

Comment on the recent IDC Gala dinner by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

Now that the dust has settled after the recent In Defense of Christians (IDC) Gala dinner in Washington on 10 September 2014, I feel it is appropriate to comment because of the nature of my work on inter-religious relations and reconciliation in Britain and around the world.

My observation was of a large gathering of people, particularly connected to Iraq and Syria, experiencing very real pain who had come together to represent relatives either displaced, persecuted, missing, or murdered. In my own address and in my general view as a Christian and a minister I believe there is complete clarity that advocacy must be for all who suffer persecution, Christian or otherwise, and that this is a time for collaboration to this end.

As mentioned in my previous statement of 10 September 2014, “Christians, along with those who live by faith, morals, and ethics, and the international community, must collaborate to address this threat against not only innocent civilians, but our way of life as we know it today.” Having spoken at this IDC Summit on the plight of Christians in the Middle East, and particularly in Iraq and Syria, I take personal exception to sweeping statements made about those in attendance as espousing "bigotry and hatred...against Jews and Israel". In light of the current very real challenges, this is not a time for such divisive and inflammatory language that demonises communities and causes rifts between them when their collaboration is most needed.

As servants of the people, clergy, politicians or otherwise, we are accountable and responsible as representatives, stewards and reconcilers to deal at the most difficult of times and circumstances with the most peaceful means to overcome apparent misunderstanding and conflict.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on the Need for Collaboration to Address Violations of International Religious Freedom in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East

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10 September 2014

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Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on 10 September 2014 regarding the need for collaboration to address violations of international religious freedom in Iraq, Syria and the Wider Middle East.

Bishop Angaelos is delivering a keynote address at the In Defence of Christians (IDC) Summit in Washington DC on 10 September 2014 between 1-2pm (BST) 8-9am (EDT).

The three day summit, which intends to promote solidarity and strengthen advocacy efforts with policy makers and elected officials for those suffering in the Middle East, features human rights experts, public officials, representatives in public office, policy makers, diplomats, and Church leaders and representatives from across the Middle Eastern Christian community.

Bishop Angaelos will deliver another keynote address on Thursday 11 September at the Summit 1:30-3:30pm (BST) 8:30-10:30am (EDT).

His Grace will also be representing His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark.


Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on the Need for Collaboration to Address Violations of International Religious Freedom in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East

The widespread brutality facing Christians and minorities in the Middle East is intensifying, and gross violations of the God-given right and freedom to practice Faith and belief, as protected by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is increasingly experienced by them in their homelands.

Heightened levels of extremism seek to eradicate indigenous Christian communities that have been a vital part of the identity, culture and heritage of the Middle East for over two millennia. Those communities that do not fit within the extremist ideology now spreading through the region are at greater risk of no longer being a part of its fabric. The model of intolerance and extremism that we are witnessing, will become legitimised and replicated throughout the Middle East and further afield if left unchallenged, and will continue to marginalise, alienate and destroy all in its path.
While Christians continue to suffer the brunt of these dangerous levels of exclusion and dehumanisation, Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities, including many Muslims, also suffer the same fate. Innocent men, women and children face extreme persecution, torture and murder for their Faith. The loss of these historic communities, with their stabilising and reconciling presence, will not only have a detrimental effect on their own countries but on the entire region.
This is a time for collaboration and a unified effort against ideologies that seek to attack the fundamental principles of human rights and civilisation that have developed over millennia. Christians, along with those who live by faith, morals, and ethics, and the international community, must collaborate to address this threat against not only innocent civilians, but our way of life as we know it today.
Rhetoric used to describe the atrocities in the Middle East must no longer remain within a religious framework, but rather deal with these events as unacceptable crimes against citizens of countries who are entitled to the basic rights and freedoms of all. It is within this context that the international community must commit itself to providing, supporting, and advocating, in every way it can, for Christians and others whose fundamental right to freedom of Faith is denied in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and the wider Middle East.
We give thanks for our brothers and sisters who despite immense challenges, continue to live their Christian Faith with extraordinary strength and resilience, but as Christians we do not pray and advocate for them alone, but for all those denied their God-given right to freedom in the Middle East.

*Ends*


For more information about the IDC Summit 2014 please visit www.IDCSummit.org 



Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Press Release: Unprecedented meeting of Middle East Church Leaders and the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace

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3 September 2014

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In an unprecedented ecumenical gathering at Lambeth Palace hosted by The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and initiated by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, a statement was agreed by leaders and representatives of the Churches of the Middle East and the wider Christian Church in Britain.

The meeting began with a round table discussion regarding the plight of Christians and minority communities in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East. A statement was then agreed, expressing solidarity with, and advocating for, all those who continue to suffer gross violations of the fundamental right and freedom to practice their chosen faith.

The round table discussion was followed by a service of prayer to give thanks for Christians in the Middle East and to remember all those who have lost their lives or continue to suffer persecution. A short press briefing followed.

After the meeting, Bishop Angaelos said:

It is incomprehensible and unacceptable in the 21st Century that our sisters and brothers in the Middle East face intimidation and death for exercising their freedom of religion or belief, or merely being of a certain ethnic background. 

We have gathered today as leaders and representatives of Churches in the Middle East within the wider Church in Britain to stand in solidarity with those who are persecuted for their Christian faith, as well as all who fall victim to injustice.

We have spoken in one voice, calling for the continued support of Christians and minority groups across the Middle East, and pray protection upon them while they remain steadfast in the face of unimaginable challenges.

With regards to media coverage of the plight of Christians in the Middle East, Archbishop Justin said:

When you are looking at the murder and the slaughter of vast numbers of people there is never enough in terms of coverage, and it is easy to forget that is part of a global process of immense suffering. I think in looking at the Middle East we hope that the media will not move on quickly but will continue to remember those who are suffering so greatly.

The statement is below:

Meeting and Service of Prayer for Christians in the Middle East
REJOICING IN THEIR FAITH AND SHARING IN THEIR COLLECTIVE PAIN
3 September 2014
A new situation has arisen which creates a state of emergency in the Middle East for Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities. The recent increase in violence and aggression has resulted in gross violations of fundamental rights and freedoms in the region. We gathered today as Christians including those originally from the Middle East to stand in solidarity and prayer with our brothers and sisters who seek to practice their faith and belief in lands where they have been a continuing presence for centuries.
The Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity, and home to indigenous Christian communities that have been an indispensable part of its history. Despite the challenges, Christians in the region were and are a stabilising and reconciling presence. Today, particularly in Iraq and Syria, they are at great risk from violence fostered by extremist ideologies which no longer see them as being part of the future. The Middle East is in desperate danger of losing an irreplaceable part of its identity, heritage and culture.
We are seeing an extreme religious ideology that knows no limits in its persecution of those who are culturally or religiously different. Those who promote this intolerance must be challenged and the perpetrators of violence held to account. The suffering of those who bear the brunt of its terror requires us to act and bear witness to their plight, whatever ethnic group or religious minority, they come from. We must provide relief and safety for those displaced and in fear of their lives in consultation with our partners in the region. We must also bring pressure to bear on those who can provide security to those affected.
In meeting and praying together, we give thanks for our brothers and sisters as they continue to live their Christian faith with strength and perseverance. We commit to continue to stand with them in prayer, to speak for freedom from persecution for Christians and all other religious communities and those of no faith who live as minority groups across the region. We also continue to urge Her Majesty’s Government to work within the international community to safeguard and provide for all those affected.
To our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, We “share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance.” Revelation 1:9

*Ends*


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, on the anniversary of the unprecedented attacks on Churches in Egypt, and the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the Middle East

As we witness the atrocities in Iraq and Syria, and share the pain of those who are displaced and have lost loved ones, we also remember those commemorating the first anniversary of painful events that unfolded in Egypt over the coming days. Whether considering communities and families who lost loved ones in the pro-Morsi protests in the suburbs of Cairo, or the scores of Christian communities whose churches and places of ministry throughout Egypt were subsequently attacked, the continuing need for healing and reconciliation is ever present.

These events in Egypt are now an all-too-distant memory for many around the world, but for those personally touched by them, there remains real pain. For most, this pain is accompanied by a sense of immense loss, while for some who take a more radical line, by anger and a need for violent retribution. This need drove a small minority, a year ago, to retaliate against the scapegoated Christian community of Egypt that chose the extraordinary path of non-retaliation despite the unjustified and unprecedented level of attacks. Their restraint was, and continues to be, a powerful witness that has provided a strong foundation for peace and reconciliation.

Whether addressing Egypt, Iraq, Syria, or the broader Middle East, peace, stability, cohesion and reconciliation are traits of unified and unifying states, and can not come about without the support of a proactive and intentional effort from those who govern them.

With the atrocities we are witnessing at the forefront of our minds, we continue to advocate for those, regardless of race, religion or belief, who are suffering, and pray God’s grace and strength upon them as they currently endure immense challenges and persecution, and endeavour to move ahead from a place of mourning and loss.

As the situation facing Christians and minority groups in the Middle East increasingly spirals to new and dangerous levels of exclusion and dehumanisation, the need is intensified for both the unified Body of Christ within the Christian family, and the global community as a whole, to stand in solidarity with those suffering, condemn acts of brutality, and provide whatever assistance may be needed, while at the same time, explore every possible means of healing, rebuilding and restoring of communities and lives.  

We continue to hold those suffering great struggles, indignity and the loss of precious human life in our prayers, that grace, healing and strength be bestowed upon them all at this time. We also pray for those committing these atrocities, that they will one day realise the sanctity and dignity granted equally by God to every human life.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom regarding the situation in Mosul, Iraq

25 July 2014

As the widespread violence and aggression facing Christians and minority groups in Mosul, Iraq, intensifies, it is increasingly evident that the fundamental right and freedom to practice one’s Faith and belief is, and continues to be, grossly violated.

We are currently witnessing an unacceptable widespread implementation of extremist religious ideology that threatens the lives of all Iraqi’s who do not fit within its ever-narrowing perspective. While this situation stands to eradicate centuries of co-existence and culture in the region it also threatens to significantly and negatively impact these communities for generations to come. If left unchallenged, it is not Iraq alone that is at risk, but the potential is intensified for the replication of this ideology as a viable and legitimate model for others across the Middle East.

As the situation escalates, little is being said in the worldwide community, and I am therefore appreciative of the recent comment by The Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies, and its Chairman, His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, expressing its concern over the current situation in Mosul. Comments such as this have the potential to positively influence these and similar situations by challenging what is being taught, and presenting an alternative religious understanding.

We continue to pray and advocate for all whose God-given right to freedom is denied, hoping that acceptance and respect for all is realised in these affected communities, and that grace, healing and strength will be given to those who continue to suffer great atrocities and the loss of precious human life.   


Friday, 16 May 2014

Press Release: Freedom of Faith - Comment by HG Bishop Angaelos re International Religious Freedom

For immediate use
16 May 2014

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Freedom of Faith

Comment by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

The freedom to choose and practice one’s faith is a fundamental right for all under international law, and yet we continue to see numerous tragic cases around the world in which that same right is non-existent, and exercising this freedom is punishable, sometimes even by death.

As Christians we believe that all are created in the Image and likeness of God, with His Image intrinsic to our human nature, which lays the foundation for respect and love for all. Within this nature, we believe that all have been given the freedom to choose and live according to those choices, and while freedom of religion is one choice that is central to the lives of millions across the world, it continues to be widely violated.

As recently reported by Amnesty International, Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag is a Christian Sudanese woman in Sudan who was sentenced "to death by hanging for ‘apostasy’" after refusing to renounce her Christian Faith and convert to Islam, although she has lived as a Christian since her childhood. Meriam, who is twenty seven years old and is eight months pregnant, was reportedly also sentenced to "flogging for ‘adultery’" because her marriage to a Christian man is considered unlawful. This, among other cases, sheds light on the intensity of the struggle facing so many around the world who strive to merely practice their faith.
   
The recent and deeply-disturbing development of the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria who have reportedly been forced to convert to Islam is yet another incident that has shocked the international community, and in which this brutal violation of this fundamental human right is also causing great distress to families who anxiously await the return of their children.

Egyptian Christians know the effect of religious persecution against numeric minority communities in the Middle East all too well, with the emergence of pockets of intolerant Islamism that have led to more attacks on Christians in the eighteen months following the popular uprising of 2011, than over the twenty years prior. This intolerance has not only affected Christians however, as the first attacks after the uprising were on Sufi shrines, and on a separate occasion Shi’ite Muslims were also senselessly killed in the streets. That said, as Christians we do not live defeated but strive to advocate for all who suffer persecution, oppression and marginalisation, be they Christian or otherwise, man, woman, young or old.

The Baha’i community in Iran is likewise no stranger to religious persecution, and 14 May 2014 marks the sixth anniversary of the imprisonment of seven Baha’i leaders, detained for carrying out ‘peaceful activities on behalf of their communities’.

Here in Britain we pride ourselves on our multi-cultural community that seeks to accommodate and provide for all, and rightly so. We cannot however ignore the fact that, for many across the Middle East in particular, the concept of citizenship, justice and equality are not rights available to everyone, and are very much dependent on a person’s religious affiliation.

We must not forget those around the world who continue to face intense persecution for merely attempting to live out their chosen faith. We also continue to pray and advocate for the rights of these individuals and communities so that this God-given freedom may be exercised within the context of peaceful co-existence and cohesion. This will then ensure a spirit of true reconciliation and acceptance within political states and communities that respect all as equal individuals with equal rights.

*Ends*

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Press Release: A Papal Delegation from the Coptic Orthodox Church met with delegates of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow on 21 March 2014

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22 March 2014

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A Papal Delegation from the Coptic Orthodox Church met with delegates of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow on 21 March 2014.

A delegation representing the Coptic Orthodox Church, comprising Their Graces: Bishop Kyrillos of Milan, Papal Exarch in Europe, Bishop Raphael, General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, met with His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations in Moscow on Friday 21 March 2014.
During the warm and fraternal meeting with His Eminence and staff of the department for external church relations, there was exploration of: the deepening and continuing relationships between the Churches through shared theological understanding and pastoral experience, the establishment of a Coptic Orthodox parish for the ministry and pastoral care of Coptic Orthodox expatriates in the Russian Federation, and preparation for the upcoming visit of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
Commenting on the meeting, His Grace Bishop Angaelos said:
“Our Churches, both deeply rooted in Orthodox belief and practice, have had a strong and long-standing relationship, both ecumenically and fraternally, and these meetings, along with the upcoming visit of His Holiness Pope Tawadros, stand to further and deepen that relationship. We have had many shared experiences throughout our histories which have led us to safeguarding our Faith in our respective nations despite substantial struggles faced; this commonality and shared experience allows us to have a greater common witness today, and even more powerfully going forward.”
During their visit, the bishops celebrated a Eucharistic Liturgy with members of the Coptic Orthodox community in Moscow.
The delegation was hosted by His Excellency Dr Mahmoud El-Badry, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Russian Federation.
*Ends*

Friday, 21 March 2014

Press Release: Departure of Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas I of Antioch, 122nd patriarch of Antioch and All the East on the Apostolic Throne of St Peter.

Press Release
For immediate use
21 March 2014

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom offers condolences and prayers to the Syrian Orthodox Church on behalf of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom upon the departure of Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas I of Antioch, 122nd patriarch of Antioch and All the East on the Apostolic Throne of St Peter.


Expressing his condolences, Bishop Angaelos said:

“Upon hearing of the departure of His Holiness, the late Mor Ignatius Zakka, I spoke to Archbishop Athanasius to assure him and our sister Orthodox Church of our prayers. The historic and fraternal relationship between our two Churches means that we have also lost a beloved father.  

I fondly remember the visit of His Holiness to The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre here in the United Kingdom, and the numerous occasions in which I, along with members of the Coptic Clergy and community received His Holiness both in Cairo and London.

We pray repose for the soul of His Holiness and that God reward him for his many years of faithful ministry to his children who have undergone and continue to undergo huge struggles and pressures in Iraq, Syria and throughout the Middle East.”

Mor Ignatius Zakka departed on 21 March 2014 after a long and courageous battle against illness.

**Ends**



Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Press Release: HG Bishop Angaelos delivers address at the Houses of Parliament regarding the current situation in Egypt since the 2011 uprising

Press Release
For immediate use
19 March 2014

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office 

On 17 March 2014 His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom delivered an address at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, arranged by the Conservative Party’s Middle East and North Africa Group (MENA) regarding the current situation in Egypt since the 2011 uprising.

Addressing an audience comprised of specialists, analysts and enthusiasts with an interest in Egypt and the wider Middle East, Bishop Angaelos highlighted the resilient nature of Egypt’s citizens, and the challenges faced in light of the recent uprisings.

Speaking of proactive steps towards reconciliation and rebuilding Egypt, he said:

 “Reconciliation must happen through pragmatic and intentional leadership; bringing people together. These efforts will then instil a sense of unity, cohesion and national identity so that people no longer focus on one’s religion, but see the Egyptian in the other...It is only then that we can begin to advocate for one another.”

Addressing the misconception that issues in Egypt arise primarily due to a Muslim Christian divide, he said:

“This is about advocating for all; about unity, individual identity, and the importance of that individual as a member of a nation state.”

Raising awareness to the impact of the recent uprisings on Christian and minority communities in Egypt, as well as the state of polarisation affecting the nation, Bishop Angaelos highlighted the increasing levels of poverty and illiteracy, the decline in foreign investment and tourism, the increasing levels of harassment against women, and increasing unemployment.

He went on to provide his optimistic outlook for Egypt and the way ahead however, saying:

“On the 30 June when people took to the streets, they were Christian and Muslim, secular and religious, man and woman, young and old; the whole of society…There is only one way ahead and that is reconciliation, there is no other way. People must live side by side and there must be healing.”

During the course of his address Bishop Angaelos also said:

“We are all held in the hands of a God Who is much more mighty than anyone who tries to create harm….We are confident, through His graciousness, love and vigilance over His whole creation, that God has a solution for Egypt.” 

Among those in attendance were the Chairman and Officers of the MENA Group, Parliamentary Member Mark Field and other representatives of the Conservative Party.