Friday, 15 February 2019

Press Release: Coptic Orthodox Church commemorates contemporary Martyrs at events in New York, Washington DC, and London



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Press Release: 

Coptic Orthodox Church commemorates contemporary Martyrs at events in New York, Washington DC, and London
15 February 2019




On the 15 February, the Coptic Orthodox Church commemorates the lives of its contemporary martyrs, while also marking the fourth anniversary of the martyrdom of the 21 executed by the Caliphate in Libya. 20 of the martyrs were Coptic Orthodox Christians from Upper Egypt.

In the lead up to the anniversary, three linked events were held this week in honour of the 21, launching a book originally written in German by Martin Mosebach called ‘The 21’, translated into English by Plough Publishing House. Discussions around the importance of freedom of religion or belief were also facilitated throughout the week’s proceedings.

The first was held in the Union League Club in New York on 11 February 2019, featuring a discussion between author Martin Mosebach and His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London. The discussion was moderated by journalist Eliza Griswold of the New Yorker, and closing remarks were made by R.R. Reno, the editor of First Things magazine.

Following on from New York, an event was held on 12 February 2019, at the National Press Club, Washington DC.  Martin Mosebach discussed ‘The 21’ with Kent R. Hill, Executive Director of the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), and an address was delivered by Archbishop Angaelos, who drew attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Egypt. Addresses were also given by Ambassador Sam Brownback, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, and Mariz Tadros, Research Fellow, Institute for Development Studies.



A panel discussion was then held with the Archbishop, Samuel Tadros, Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Middle Eastern Studies, Hoover Institution and Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute’s Centre for Religious Freedom, and Shadi Hamid, Senior Fellow, Centre for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institute. The discussion was moderated by Jeremy Barker, Senior Program Officer at the RFI.

The week’s events ended with a book launch and reception on 14 February 2019 at Lambeth Palace in London, where members of the public, advocacy organisations, ambassadors, members of the House of Lords, and heads and representatives of a variety of Churches and denominations, gathered to hear about the book, along with addresses.

The welcome to Lambeth was made by The Right Revd Nicolas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Addresses were made by Bernard Hibbs, on behalf of the Bruderhoff Community, author Martin Mosebach, His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Primate of the Aremenian Apostolic Church in Great Britain, Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, Co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Religious Freedom or Belief, His Excellency Mr Tarek Adel, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Kingdom, and His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London.


When asked about the significance of the events of the week, Archbishop Angaelos said:

“The 21 Libya martyrs have given the world an example of faithful, resilient Christian witness, that has touched and brought together the full breadth of Christian expression around the world. Their moving solemn prayers in the face of imminent death, have not only resonated with Christians, but have also encouraged people of all faiths to stand for one another.

I am grateful for their witness, and for all those who have sought to make a positive difference in the world as a result of the 21, and continue to be inspired by their families who chose to forgive the perpetrators of this heinous crime. I am reminded of the encouraging passage in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, which highlights the paradox of Christianity, that there is victory even in death: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”

The three events this week have shown that although the murder of the 21 was tragic, their witness has led to fruitful, committed collaboration around the world in order to prevent similar tragedies occurring again in any community.

I am grateful for the faithful depiction presented by Martin Mosebach, of these courageous men, their families, communities and Church, and the Bruderhoff community for having taken the initiative to publish this work.”



Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Press Release: Historic service at Westminster Abbey, attended by HRH The Prince of Wales, to celebrate the contribution of Christians in the Middle East


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Historic service at Westminster Abbey, attended by HRH The Prince of Wales, to celebrate the contribution of Christians in the Middle East


5 December 2018

On 4 December 2018, a historic service in Westminster Abbey, attended by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, was held to celebrate the contribution of Christians in the Middle East. The choir of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of London commenced the service with an introit, singing the Coptic processional hymn ‘O King of Peace’; the choir of the Syriac Orthodox Church also contributed to the service. Overall the event aimed to offer both celebration of, and encouragement to, the Christian communities of the Middle East in light of ongoing challenges and persecution faced by Christians in the region.

In the various addresses, prayers and reflections, the experience and challenges of suffering, and the expression of endurance and hope were highlighted, as well as the acknowledgement of the positive contributions that Christians, as indigenous peoples, offer their communities throughout the region.

At the beginning of the service, in his reflection, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales said:

In recent years, I have had the great privilege of meeting so many Christians who, with such inspiring faith and courage, are battling oppression and persecution, or who have fled to escape it.”

Addressing representatives of Middle East Churches, His Royal Highness went on to say:

“Forgiveness, as many of you know far better than I, is not a passive act, or submission.  Rather, it is an act of supreme courage; of a refusal to be defined by the sin against you; of determination that love will triumph over hate.”

The Prince of Wales went on to say:

“So, in coming together today, we can only give thanks for the truly remarkable strength of the Faith with which so many Christians face persecution, and which gives them the courage and the determination to endure, and to overcome.”

In conclusion, His Royal Highness said:

“So in this season of Advent, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself knew exile, injustice and suffering, I can only assure you of our steadfast support and most heartfelt prayers as you take forward your works of restoration, justice and healing, so that God’s will might be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

In his address, and in speaking of the witness of Christians in the Middle East, the Most Reverend Archbishop Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury said:

“When the church of Jesus Christ is attacked, it is an attack on Christ Himself. When any part of the church suffers, we also suffer, and yet distance and ignorance take away the pain we should feel.”

“For suffering, and especially persecution, is something that isolates. Those outside its experience cannot say “I know how you feel" because they don't.”

The Archbishop went on to say:

“One thinks of the martyrs on the beach in Libya, of those countless killed in Iraq and Syria, of the faithfulness of Christians in parts of the region that are secure and stable, who have maintained their worship, welcomed their refugee brothers and sisters in Christ, for example in Jordan and Lebanon, and thus shone a light around the world.”

The Archbishop concluded by saying:

“And if our relationship to those brothers and sisters is genuine, then we must in this service commit ourselves not to rest until in obedience we build bridges to those who are isolated by suffering.”

Following the event, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, who contributed to the prayers during the service, said:

“Seeing Westminster Abbey filled with so many who came to recognise and pray for Christians in the Middle East was truly inspiring. The event was prayerful while also very honest in its description of both the plight and gracious contribution of Christians in the region.

I am so thankful that His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, has taken the interest and time to give this matter the priority it so crucially deserves at a time when many thousands are suffering displacement, persecution, and some even the tragic loss of loved ones. I am also thankful to Westminster Abbey and its Dean and Chapter for so generously hosting this event and for giving our Coptic Orthodox Choir and Clergy the honour of taking part in such a historic moment in time.”   

His Eminence concluded by saying:

“It is only when we all come together as Churches, organisations, governments, and so many other interested parties, that we can provide tangible and holistic solutions to the immense challenges encountered by many of our Christian sisters and brothers on a daily basis. Core to this, is also keeping this matter alive and relevant in the eyes, hearts and minds of our global community. We pray, as we continue to come together for those who struggle and suffer, that they are comforted and supported by the grace of God and by our collective interest and action in and for them as individuals and communities.”

The service was officiated by The Dean of Westminster, and attended by representatives of a number of Middle East Churches, as well as Church leaders from the United Kingdom. Over 1000 people were in attendance, and along with members of the public were congregation members from churches of the Middle East across the United Kingdom whose communities His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has visited in recent years. In December 2013, HRH The Prince of Wales commenced his visits to Middle East Churches based in the United Kingdom, with a visit to The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Hertfordshire.

*Ends*

For photographs and videos please visit www.Flickr.com/CopticMedia

For other press releases and statement from Archbishop Angaelos, visit www.CopticMediaUK.com


Monday, 12 November 2018

HE Archbishop Angaelos takes part in National Remembrance services on Armistice Day 2018, as the Coptic Orthodox Church is invited to the Cenotaph Commemoration for the first time in history



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HE Archbishop Angaelos takes part in National Remembrance services on Armistice Day 2018, as the Coptic Orthodox Church is invited to the Cenotaph Commemoration for the first time in history



12 November 2018

On 11 November 2018, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, took part in national Remembrance Sunday commemorations, which included the Cenotaph Remembrance Service in London in the morning, a prayer service at Southwark Cathedral in the afternoon, and a service to mark the Centenary of the Armistice at Westminster Abbey in the evening. 
At 11am, Her Majesty The Queen, alongside other senior members of the royal family including His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, marked the Armistice Day centenary at the Cenotaph with a two-minute silence, prayers led by the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London, and the laying of wreaths at the memorial. This was the first time that the Coptic Orthodox Church had taken part in this service.

Following the Cenotaph Commemoration, Archbishop Angaelos joined the Bishop of Southwark, The Rt. Revd Bishop Christopher Chessun, and the Dean and Chapter of Southwark Cathedral, at a service marking the end of the First World War. The Archbishop read a New Testament Reading during prayers.

In the evening, Archbishop Angaelos attended a service in Westminster Abbey, conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall. Her Majesty The Queen and His Excellency Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany attended the service, and Her Majesty was accompanied by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, HRH The Duke of Kent and HRH Prince Michael of Kent. The Address was given by The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. The Right Honourable Theresa May MP, Prime Minister was among those who read passages of Scripture during the service.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Statement by His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, following the murder of seven, and the wounding of at least a dozen others, outside a monastery in Upper Egypt


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Statement by His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos,
Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, following the murder of seven, and the wounding of at least a dozen others, outside a monastery in Upper Egypt

2 November 2018
  
Today’s heinous attack on unsuspecting pilgrims visiting a monastery to celebrate the baptism of a child and offer prayers marks another grotesque development in recent attacks on Christians in Egypt.

Only May of last year, pilgrims were similarly stopped by Islamists, who killed 28 women, children and men, and left others injured and grieving until today. It is hard to fathom what one might think could be a justification or a result out of today’s or similar attacks.  It is difficult to believe that anyone can find justification to accept, let alone, perpetrate acts like this, and yet they do.

Those who were murdered can never return, and some who were injured and affected will never fully heal, and so the purpose of speaking out is not merely to express anger, but to call upon the humanity and humaneness of perpetrators of this crime, and similar crimes past and present, appealing to the sense and mercy of those who may, as a result, refuse to carry out such barbaric brutality ever again.

As we farewell those who have departed, we do so in the spirit of hope and the resurrection that awaits us; as we comfort those injured and grieving, we do so in the spirit of confidence in God’s healing hand; and as we consider the effect this attack has on us all as Coptic Orthodox Christians, we do so in the spirit of the love and empowering grace that we are all called to live.

We pray repose for our departed children and brethren, healing for the injured, and comfort for those mourning and directly affected by this crime. We also pray for those further afield who continue to face similar attacks merely for living and expressing their faith, whatever that may be. We also pray God’s peace upon Egypt, and all her people.

*Ends*

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Statement from His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London on alarming images and videos emerging from Jerusalem of the treatment of Coptic clergy


Statement from His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London on alarming images and videos emerging from Jerusalem of the treatment of Coptic clergy


24 October 2018

Alarming images and videos have emerged from Jerusalem today of the unacceptable and excessive use of force by Israeli police on Coptic monks and deacons as they lawfully protested the execution of an order that contravenes a standing Israeli Supreme Court ruling on property in favour of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. 

Coptic clergy, accompanying His Eminence Archbishop Antonios, Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop of Jerusalem, were peacefully demonstrating at the Sultan Monastery in Jerusalem’s Old City, officially the property of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Urgent restoration work has been needed for some time, and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate had offered on numerous occasions to carry out the required work itself, but was refused. This work is now being carried out by Israeli authorities on their own terms, without the approval of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, and while preventing Archbishop Antonios access throughout.

According to the 1971 Israeli Supreme Court ruling, the Coptic Orthodox Church was given sole rights over the Sultan Monastery, but to-date Israeli authorities have failed to implement the ruling, giving rise to unnecessary dissatisfaction, confusion, tension, and violent and forceful behaviour against the Coptic community on numerous occasions.

This situation can be alleviated with the execution of the aforementioned standing Supreme Court ruling of 1971 in favour of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

With this alarming and escalating situation, we pray safety and peace for His Eminence Archbishop Antonios and his clergy and community in Jerusalem. We also pray wisdom, discernment, and true visionary and reconciliatory leadership for Israeli authorities, as they find a legitimate path through this now complex situation in the very birthplace of Christianity, especially as it affects a community that represents the largest Christian presence in the Middle East, continues to face persecution, is recognised and respected around the world for its spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, and has had a peaceful and contributing presence in Jerusalem and the Holy Lands for millennia.

*Ends*

Other resources regarding the history surround these events: https://bit.ly/2RdLCmU 






Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Press Release: Messages from Her Majesty The Queen, HRH the Prince of Wales, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister at the annual Coptic New Year (Nayrouz) Service at Westminster Abbey



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Messages from Her Majesty The Queen, HRH the Prince of Wales, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister at the annual Coptic New Year (Nayrouz) Service at Westminster Abbey




10 October 2018

Messages were received from Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, the Most Reverend Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Right Honourable Theresa May, Prime Minister, as equality and freedom were highlighted at the annual Coptic New Year (Nayrouz) Service at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey. Addresses were also delivered by the Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Minister for Faith, and the Lord Alton of Liverpool.

Members from the House of Lords and House of Commons, the Diplomatic Corps, the Foreign Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, and humanitarian and advocacy organisations, as well as various ecumenical and inter-religious guests, joined members of the Coptic Orthodox community in the United Kingdom for this annual celebration. The service commenced with a welcome by the Reverend Canon Jane Sinclair, Canon of Westminster & Rector of St Margaret’s.

In his sermon, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, said:

“Today we gather to celebrate a new beginning; a new year. Today is a day for rejoicing in the creation of our God, because through it, we see that He is a God of equity; a God of equality. He is a God Who creates all according to that spirit of fairness.

Yesterday was the International Day for Indigenous Peoples. How ironic as we now look upon tens of millions who are displaced, no longer in their indigenous lands. No longer in their ancestral places because of war, conflict, persecution or poverty.

The Feast of Nayrouz commemorates martyrs historically, but it is also a time at which we remember those who have paid the ultimate price more recently. Over the past 2 years we have experienced the bombing of numerous churches, the shooting of innocent worshippers, targeted attacks on churches and Christians in villages across Upper Egypt, and an attempted suicide bombing only weeks ago. Today also marks the seventh anniversary of innocent Christians brutally massacred in Maspero, Cairo.

The beauty and irony of this situation however, is that without darkness there is no need for light, and so if we celebrate light today, it is because it breaks darkness. Our gathering here is light, with people coming together, representing a variety of ages, ethnicities, cultures, religions, a variation of humanity; a broad spectrum of our British society and our British Coptic society within that.

The celebration of this new year represents our Christian understanding that whatever wrong we may have committed, either personally or corporately, it can be corrected through repentance and a changing of our course. We must therefore, personally and collectively, take stock of where we have erred, repent, and move forward with what Saint Paul refers to as the “renewal of [our] minds.” This epitomises our Faith that there is always hope beyond desperation, and life beyond the Cross."


Following prayers for the safety and unity of the Church and wider society, a message from Her Majesty The Queen was read by the Right Reverend Michael Langrish, in which she wrote:

“As you commemorate the faithful witness of countless people who have paid the ultimate price for their Christian Faith, I send my best wishes to your community for a peaceful year ahead.”

In a message addressed to Archbishop Angaelos from the Most Reverend Archbishop of Canterbury, read by the Right Reverend Andrew J Proud, Bishop of Reading, he said:

“This is the first Feast of Nayrouz after the creation of the Coptic Diocese of London and your enthronement as its Archbishop. The creation of the diocese is a testimony to the strength of the Coptic community in this country.”

The Right Honourable Theresa May Prime Minister provided a message read by the Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth:

"Nayrouz is a time for gratitude and reflection as you gather together to mark this yearly event. It provides the chance to commemorate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their beliefs, at a time when it is important to remember that minority faith groups continue to face persecution in various parts of the world.”

The Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Minister for Faith, addressed the congregation and Archbishop Angaelos with the warmest wishes and thanks, saying:

“The Archbishop has once again extended a hand of friendship to all. It is an honour to mark this holy day as a member of this congregation, which truly reflects the great pluralism and diversity on which our society rightly prides itself.”

The Lord Alton of Liverpool concluded the addresses by reading a message from the Prince of Wales, in which His Royal Highness commented on the growth of faith and strength in Coptic Christians both here in Britain and Egypt, subsequent to recent and past events. He also congratulated the Coptic community and Archbishop Angaelos on the newly established diocese of London, and sending his warmest wishes to the community.

The Lord Alton of Liverpool then gave his own personal message by concluding with:

“I have always been struck by the hidden treasures of the Coptic Church: inspired by its extraordinary and remarkable history, its beautiful liturgies, and by its contemporary work.”

*Ends*



Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Reflection from His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos following the departure of His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, of blessed memory.


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Reflection from His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, following the departure of His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, of blessed memory.


3 October 2018

Today we mourn the loss, while celebrating the life, of a father, shepherd and teacher of the Coptic Orthodox Church. His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, of blessed memory, faithfully served the Church internally, through his diocese, as General Secretary of the Holy Synod and as Convenor of the Clerical Council. I have personally seen his engagement with the clergy and laity of his diocese, and so I know that today, they will be mourning the loss of a gentle, loving and beloved father.

Externally, Metropolitan Bishoy has also served through his chairing, membership of, and contribution to, a variety of theological dialogues and consultations over the past forty five years.

His Eminence has also served the wider Church of God by being a pivotal point of engagement at so many levels, through the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, and numerous ecumenical bodies and initiatives.

Having had the blessing and honour of serving alongside the late Metropolitan Bishoy, both as a member of the Holy Synod and in numerous ecumenical dialogues and bodies, I have come to learn from and respect the commitment, passion, dedication, and attention to detail that many will know him for.

My most recent encounter with Metropolitan Bishoy was only a few days ago in Holy Etchmiadzin, as he signed, on behalf of the Family of Oriental Orthodox Churches, a historic Memorandum of Understanding between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches and the United Bible Societies. As his last official act only forty-eight hours before his passing, this demonstrated the fruits of tireless work that has spanned over a decade. Having spent much time in conversation with him during that trip, partly in preparation for the upcoming annual meeting of the Anglican Oriental-Orthodox International Commission, I know that he will be greatly missed by the Commission, as a founder member and co-Chair, and as a friend and colleague to all who have served on it since its inception.

Within just hours of the news of his passing, I have received countless messages of condolence, which is indicative of the breadth and depth of his engagement with ecumenical partners over decades around the world.

We pray repose for his soul, and comfort for his diocese and the many thousands of his ecumenical friends and colleagues around the world who will dearly miss him.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Remembering the late Bishop Epiphanius, Abbot of St Makarios Monastery, Wadi-el-Natrun, Egypt


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Remembering the late Bishop Epiphanius,
Abbot of St Makarios Monastery, Wadi-el-Natrun, Egypt



31 July 2018

Today the Coptic Orthodox Church farewells a member of its Holy Synod, a faithful monk, a respected scholar and theologian, and above all a beloved father figure and friend to many around the world. 

The late Bishop Epiphanius was found dead outside his cell at St Makarius monastery on 29 July 2018, and while the cause of death is unknown, this tragic loss of life will bring sadness to the hearts of countless members of not only the Coptic community, but to ecumenical friends and acquaintances around the world.

Bishop Epiphanius was born on 27 June 1954 in the Tanta Governorate in Egypt. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, and joined St Makarius monastery on 17 February 1984, becoming a monk on the 21 April of that same year. He became a priest on 17 October 2002 and was ordained a Bishop on 10 March 2013. As Abbot of the monastery, Bishop Epiphanius was well-respected by his peers and was known for his forward thinking and spiritual aspirations. He specialised in Church history, patristics and the translation of Arabic texts into English in order to promote Christian education worldwide.

Speaking of his friendship with Bishop Epiphanius, Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London said:

“Bishop Epiphanius will be missed not only as a respected leader and thinker, but as a dear friend and brother. His humble spirit was an inspiration to all, and I have been personally touched by his life and ministry. It is deeply saddening that he will no longer be with us, and it is important at times like this that we focus some of our attention to remembering and celebrating the wonderful witness that Bishop Epiphanius presented, and leaves with us, through his life and ministry. Having been an influential member of our Holy Synod, and Church at large, his ministry will continue to live on in the hearts of those who knew, respected and loved him. Praying repose for his soul and God’s peace and comfort to his monastic community and all those who mourn his death, I am thankful that his life is one that can be remembered with joy and thanksgiving.”

The funeral for Bishop Epiphanius was held in the Monastery of St Makarios on 31 July 2018, officiated and attended by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, members of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and clergy from the monastery.