Friday, 12 February 2016

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos marking the anniversary of the 21 Coptic Christians martyred in Libya


Anniversary of the 21 Coptic Christians Martyred in Libya

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




12 February 2016

For decades we have witnessed the systematic intimidation, persecution, abduction, and even execution of Christians and minorities in the Middle East, but the horrific murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya 12 months ago had a significant and marked effect on millions around the world. This reaction seemed to clearly indicate that even evil had a line it should not cross. 

The Egyptians, and their friend from Ghana, who were brutally murdered were not statesmen, religious leaders, activists or spokesmen, but ordinary men from villages working to support their families. Those who took their lives sought not only to victimise and disempower them, but to be triumphalist and instil fear in them and in the hearts and minds of all who witnessed this crime. What resulted however was a vision of honour, dignity and resilience demonstrated by these 21 men as they faced the final moments of their lives with their heads raised, and their lips calmly, powerfully and defiantly uttering their Faith. They indeed did "...not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Matthew 10:28).

An even stronger and more inconceivable message of forgiveness came from their families and communities. They rejected the temptation to become bitter, angry and vengeful, and inspired the world with their gracious and courageous sentiment. Speaking proudly of the resilience of their fathers, brothers, and sons, who had captured the attention of the whole world, they also uttered their forgiveness for those who had so brutally and needlessly taken their lives, and who sought to rob them of their dignity. 

Over this last year, the persecution of Christians and minorities in the Middle East has been relentless. We have seen communities forced to leave their historic homelands and places of heritage that they had been an instrumental part of for generations. We continue to witness an unprecedented brutality which includes abductions, decapitation, people burned and buried alive, sold into slavery, women sold as sex slaves and children either sold or recruited as child fighters. These crimes are a polar opposite to the civilisation that we should have reached in the life of equality and freedom that we both seek and advocate for around the world. This shows what can happen when we are not vigilant. 

What we are now seeing played out in the Middle East has not happened overnight, but has come after generations of the alienation, marginalisation and persecution of Christians and minority groups throughout the region. Boundaries are challenged and pushed, and when there is no repercussion they are pushed further. The phenomenon starts with people being denied daily justice and equality in society, they are then deemed irrelevant and inconsistent, in the eyes of some, with what the region should be, and finally, they are persecuted, displaced and sometimes even killed. 

We must continue to look at the Middle East, and indeed every place where there is persecution, and not only condemn that persecution but work to restore the basic God-given rights and freedoms that we should all be able to live, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). The 21 Coptic Christians and 30 Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians, along with the thousands who have died at the hands of those who seek to instil terror, are far too many. 

While the picture is bleak, as a Christian I know that the greatest place for light is in darkness, and the greatest opportunity to do good is where there is greatest evil. In seeing all that we have over the last year in the Middle East, it has also given rise to so many examples of bravery, generosity, faithfulness, and a powerful witness of good. We must continue to advocate, to stand for what we believe God has given to us as humanity, to be powerful in the face of injustice, generous in the face of atrocity, forgiving in the face of hatred, reconciliatory in the face of conflict and light in the presence of any darkness.




Thursday, 4 February 2016

Prayers for the ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ Conference in London - HG Bishop Angaelos

Prayers for the ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ Conference

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

4 February 2016


Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved in the ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ conference in London today. As heads of state, and representatives of NGOs, the private sector and civil society gather to consider ways of further supporting the vulnerable and displaced within Syria, and all affected by the refugee crisis, we pray for an effective discussion and fruitful outcome for those so desperately in need of the cooperation, collaboration and support of our world community. 

We give thanks for the immense generosity of both the British public and Her Majesty’s Government, evident in the ongoing support provided to those throughout this war-torn region. It is however undeniable that much more needs to be done by state and non-state actors, as well as individuals. This must simultaneously address both the macro and micro levels of conflict-resolution for the area, and provision for individuals affected by this ongoing conflict.

Although this conference omits religious institutions due to the fact that it focuses purely on matters of funding and social services, it must be acknowledged that some of these, including many Christian and Church, organisations are currently contributing substantially to ongoing social and relief work in the region. With this in mind, it is hoped that decisions will reflect that if 'hearts and minds' in the Middle East are to be challenged and changed, those and similar religious institutions must be included in both discussion and strategy. The fact remains that these legitimate and trusted networks have the greatest reach in their communities and have significant impact, as there is little if any separation in the region between government, civil society and religion. Similarly, existing pastoral and social Church networks on the ground are well placed to assist the most vulnerable in the region, and those without equal access to international support and schemes. 

We pray that all those involved in this and similar initiatives “receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgement and equity” (Proverbs 1:2-4) as they become vehicles and instigators of a restoration of peace, safety and human dignity for so many so in need.


*Ends*

Monday, 18 January 2016

Press Release: Bishop Angaelos speaks at WCC/UN High Level Conference in Geneva on Refugee Crisis

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
                            Media and Communications Office


HG Bishop Angaelos addresses WCC/UN 'High Level Conference' in Geneva on the Refugee Crisis in Europe


18 January 2016

His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, spoke today on the practical ways in which leaders and organisations can respond to the current situation of refugees in Europe.
Calling for collaboration he said:

‘This is a problem that is broader and more complex than any single individual, Church, nation or organisation, and so the least we can and should do is work to collaborate.’

Speaking about the decline of Christians in the Middle East, he continued:
Where there was once a 25% Christian population in the Middle East it is now around 5%, and tragically 4% of those 5% are in Egypt. Our silence as Churches, nations, and as a world community, has been a contributing factor to this. We have lowered the threshold of human dignity; if people are not dying then it has become acceptable…yet it is up to us to defend those whose God-given rights and freedoms are violated.’

Highlighting the need for compassion when speaking about refugees, His Grace went on to say:

‘We are not speaking of people leaving one less than affluent suburb to go to a more affluent one because they seek a better quality of life; these are people leaving war-torn poverty-stricken and conflict-filled near-anarchic states to find protection and safety for themselves and for their families.’

Highlighting the importance of the role of the Church, he said:

‘We as a Church are the largest NGO in the world, although we are much more than just that, we are the Body of Christ. What holds us together is not social convention or international decree. This is a Scriptural directive; a commandment that we live as the Body of Christ, one Body with one Head, and when one part suffers we all suffer, when one part is captive we are all captive.’

Going on to propose a solution, Bishop Angaelos said:

‘We, as the World Council of Churches, represent these Churches on the ground in the Middle East, and having spoken to many people over the last months and years, and in visiting Irbil, the Greek Macedonian Border, and soon to be visiting camps in Jordan, it has become apparent that Christians are not registered. We must use our Church networks on the ground to aid in the registration process. The Churches on the ground have a pastoral knowledge, experience, respect and integrity, and are trusted by their communities. If people are not registered, they become doubly disadvantaged: persecuted for their religion, Christian or otherwise, and then also by not having equal access to international schemes.’

Bishop Angaelos concluded by saying:

‘We need a unified and unifying approach, to work collaboratively and to understand that we have a role and responsibility to act. This is an ideal opportunity for us to prove that we can effectively and collaboratively respond to this situation, and make a real difference.’

‘We give thanks for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. We share their pain as they are forced to leave their homelands, and as they embark on these treacherous and life-threatening journeys, but we also give thanks for their stabilising, reconciling and empowering witness. In closing, the message of this gathering to those suffering can be summarised in the words of Revelation 1:9:

“We share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance.”

The conference, hosted by the World Council of Churches in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), runs from 18-19 January 2016. It has brought together 80 leaders of governments, UN agencies, faith-based and non-religious civil society organisations from countries affected by the current refugee crisis in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

 *Ends*

Live-stream of conference via http://bit.ly/1NfMBc4

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

HG Bishop Angaelos calls for return of HH Abune Antonios, praying repose for Abune Dioskoros



His Grace Bishop Angaelos calls for the return of His Holiness Abune Antonios I of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, while also praying repose for Abune Dioskoros

22 December 2015

After having received confirmation of the death of Abune Dioskoros, we pray for his repose and for the faithful of our sister Eritrean Orthodox Church. This trying and indeed painful time presents an opportunity for a reunion between the Eritrean Orthodox Church and her canonically-recognised father, His Holiness Patriarch Antonios I, who was deposed and unjustly placed under house arrest in 2005.

This would indeed be a good time for the release of Abune Antonios, returning him to his patriarchal, pastoral responsibilities, and once again uniting the deeply faithful and committed members of the Eritrean Orthodox Church around the world. Such steps will undoubtedly restore peace and a sense of justice that would contribute significantly to Eritrea and the Eritrean community globally.

During this blessed season of Advent that heralds in hope and a promise of restoration, we pray good health for His Holiness Abune Antonios, who has reportedly been unwell for some time, healing for the Eritrean Church at large, repose for Abune Dioskoros, and for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into every heart and every situation, both now and moving forward.


*Ends*

Friday, 18 December 2015

Article: HG Bishop Angaelos delivers keynote address at international conference in Rome on the Christian response to persecution.

HG Bishop Angaelos delivers keynote address at international conference in Rome on the Christian response to persecution  

After a short introduction by Daniel Philpott, Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, gave an address titled ‘Christians in the Middle East: Light in darkness, hope in despair’.

During his address, he said:

“The world seems to suddenly be waking up to the fact that there is a problem in the Middle East. That problem, however, did not start with the mass exodus of Christians from Mosul, because there has been a systematic and systemic persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East over decades and indeed over centuries. This ethnic cleansing is an accumulative effect and our silence has been a contributing factor to what we are seeing today.”

Highlighting the extent of persecution facing Christians in the Middle East, he went on to say:

“The Christian presence in the Middle East decreased from 25% to just 5%. An even more alarming statistic, is when you take Egypt out of the equation as the most populous country with the most populous Christian presence, that percentage falls from 5% to somewhere between 1% and 2% because there are 13 million Christians in Egypt.”

“That said, I welcome the recent steps taken to present the actions of the caliphate to be those of genocide. I also welcome even more strongly, the efforts in the past few days that have sought to ensure that Christians are not excluded from that equation.”

In speaking of a solution to the Middle East crisis, Bishop Angaelos said:

“We cannot export models of what we consider to be viable democratic process to a region that is governed by its own demographics, dynamics and understanding of what religion is and where it belongs, both in society and in the lives of individuals.”

Calling for a collaborative response to the situation, he continued:

“There is a growing disregard for the sanctity of life, and that must be what offends us. It is not about Christians or Muslims being killed, but about life and humanity as God’s creation, and that disregard is a violation that we cannot be silent about. In response we must realise that we have to respond together, collaboratively.”

 “We must come out of the mentality that speaks of a Christian West and a Muslim East. The Body of Christ is one that feels pain equally and is affected equally by these horrible acts.”

Shedding light and hope on the situation he said:

“The response we have seen to the attacks in Paris, in the United States, throughout Europe and around the world indicates that there is an inextinguishable mercy that exists within the human being that rejects this kind of rampant and indiscriminate violence.”

Speaking of the Christian calling to advocacy Bishop Angaelos said:

“When we are speaking for others, we have a moral responsibility to be advocates, in the model of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who speaks for those who cannot speak, and in a phrase commonly used these days, He is a voice for the voiceless.”

“In the 21st Century we should not just be speaking about human rights because life in itself is not a luxury; to live is a right and to live with dignity is a God-given right that we all receive. In our discourse we should not merely talk about provision but prosperity, not about protection but safety, or about survival but dignity; these should be the baseline of our efforts.”

Offering words of encouragement to all those working tirelessly in the area of religious freedom, and quoting Scripture, he said:

“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labour of love..." (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)

Giving thanks and paying tribute to Christians in the Middle East, Bishop Angaelos concluded:

"You are ‘hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed…perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed...’”(2 Corinthians 4:8-9)


The Conference, themed ‘Under Caesar’s Sword: Christians in Response to Persecution’ took place at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, Italy, from 10-12 December 2015, organised jointly by the Centre for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame and the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University. The conference was co-sponsored by the Community of Sant'Egidio. 

*Ends*

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos on International Human Rights Day 2015

International Human Rights Day 2015
Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of
 the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

10 December 2015

As the world marks yet another Human Rights Day, it has become evident that the past 12 months have proven the need for such a focus and cause to continue to be championed. It would have been welcomed to see those whose rights were violated to have experienced greater freedom, empowerment, prosperity, dignity and safety, yet what has unfolded for many around the world is quite the opposite. We have seen innocent people displaced, tortured, sold into slavery, beheaded and even burned alive, for trying to live the freedom for which they were created.

It may seem simple to perpetrators to violate the rights of those whom they see as less deserving, less entitled, or indeed less human. Until the right of every person to share equally in the gracious gift of life and the appreciation of the sanctity of that life is recognised, these violations will continue, and even be justified, by those who see themselves entitled to determine who does and does not have a right to live, where, and under what conditions.

It is worth stressing that freedom is a right given to all to be experienced individually within a given context, and that context is dependent upon an understanding of self within a cultural identity. What we sometimes see however is some who see themselves as human rights champions and campaigners, imposing their own understanding of freedom upon others, and when their attempts are unsuccessful it is deemed to be the fault of those who could not embrace them. 

In  advocating for, and protecting, the great conventions that safeguard human rights, we must therefore not be prescriptive, or distracted from the fact that protecting those rights should actually be a baseline of our conviction, and realise that people are not only entitled to those rights, but to live with dignity and in a state of safety and security. 

Having said that, we must pay tribute to the immensely valuable and courageous work being done by so many around the world at a great cost to themselves. Advocates, lawyers, politicians, healthcare professionals, aid workers, volunteers and so many more go to great lengths and are subjected to great risks purely for the sake of others. Within a Christian context, they show that there is “no greater love than to lay down one’s life” for another (John 15:3); sometimes quite literally.  These individuals strive tirelessly to uphold principles that are core to our communities, but for many remain a distant dream.

In that same spirit, we all now have an opportunity to exhibit this same humaneness and charity by assisting and even welcoming the many thousands who are displaced and seeking refuge, who are not mere statistics or a phenomenon, but are human beings fleeing conflict and seeking basic human rights and dignity.


Today, we pray particularly for those whose rights to life and dignity continue to be violated, for those who advocate for and serve them, and for those whose hearts are moved to be a vehicle for the provision of support for these many who are deprived of the God-given rights granted to all but enjoyed by so few. 

Friday, 4 December 2015

Article by HG Bishop Angaelos on 'A Christian response to the plight of refugees and displaced peoples'


4 December 2015

A safe passage: a Christian response to the plight of refugees and displaced peoples

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

As countries across Europe unite in their efforts to address the crisis in the Middle East and its root causes and effects, it is important that as Christians, we recognise our role and what we represent in the midst of this crisis.

The Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ is pivotal to our Faith and is the most powerful demonstration of what it means to provide for the needs of others who find themselves in exile, away from their rightful homelands. As humans, we were all victims of the separation from God caused by the weakness of our humanity, and through the Incarnation and Salvation, were restored to our rightful place in Him. When God took flesh, He experienced our pain by sharing in it and not merely observing our situation from a distance. Having said that, the Incarnation of our Lord was not only intended to make humanity feel comfortable in the world (John 17:14-15), but to provide a safe and viable route back to its rightful original place in His Kingdom.

Likewise, we must also feel the pain of those suffering, share their burden, and provide for the immediate humanitarian needs of the vulnerable who are both internally and externally displaced. Our longer-term vision must then be to restore them, if that is their desire, to the lands they have occupied for generations, and in which their heritage and identity lies; a restoration that is founded upon dignity, equality, safety and prosperity.

The idea of providing this means of return is by no means prescriptive, but is based upon the same concept of our Lord having provided us with a viable way to reach His Kingdom through Salvation, but leaving that desire and its related choices to every individual.

We must then continue to work towards safeguarding the dignity of every person we encounter, and to call for the basic God-given rights owed to the countless millions living in unenviable positions of displacement or exile. We must also do all we can to provide for those in greatest need of our support, for in doing so we live the message of the Incarnate Lord, extending our hand and offering ourselves as ministers of His message of hope, light and love (Matthew 5:14).

Bishop Angaelos delivers address and answers questions regarding the refugee crisis during a Churches Together in England (CTE) President’s dinner with Church leaders at Lambeth Palace on 3 December 2015.


Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
 Media and Communications Office


Bishop Angaelos delivers address and answers questions regarding the refugee crisis during a Churches Together in England (CTE) President’s dinner with Church leaders at Lambeth Palace on 3 December 2015.

The meeting commenced with a short welcome from The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, followed by a brief introduction by The Rt Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop at Lambeth, and David Cornick, General Secretary of CTE. Speeches were made by Presidents of CTE, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Cardinal of Westminster, and Dr Hugh Osgood.



In beginning his address. His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, commended the work being done by various Faith leaders and communities in response to the refugee crisis, and went on to outline the role Christians and Church leaders in their response, saying:

“The responsibility we have as Christians to be charitable and generous is undeniable, and it is important for us to always be good and faithful conduits of the Christian message of love and hospitality which is indiscriminate and undeniable.”

Speaking of the enormity of the challenge of refugee resettlement and stabilisation, His Grace went on to say:

“There is no way that all those currently displaced within or outside of Syria can be absorbed into other nations, and we must understand that the majority of them do not wish to leave their homelands. If their own places of heritage and history were available to them they would remain in their countries.”

“While we need to focus on the immediate vulnerability of refugees we must also think long-term about providing the possibility of return through safe and legitimate means, to ensure they have safety and refuge in their homelands.”

Urging Faith leaders to rethink rhetoric used in responding to the issue, he said:

“In tackling this issue our threshold has dropped; we are now calling for people not to be executed for their Faith or lack thereof, whereas we must realise and communicate that being alive is not a privilege but a right. We must call for all to live within a context of dignity, equality, safety and prosperity.”

Speaking of the efforts of Muslim faith leaders in their response to extremist ideology, he said:

“We must pay tribute to the Muslim voices that have spoken against these atrocities and also recognise that more must speak out, as this counter-narrative must come from within Islam and its institutions. Not only should we pay tribute to these courageous voices but we must stand by them when they speak because they become targets in challenging the more radical voices around them.”

In conclusion, Bishop Angaelos called for more unified and collaborative efforts, saying:

“We must realise that this is a great opportunity for the Church in England to be a source of light. We must stand collectively to pray, speak and provide hope into these dire situations.”


Quoting Scripture, Bishop Angaelos called for Christians to remember that “The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were once strangers…” (Leviticus 19:34)


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

HG Bishop Angaelos took part in 'High-Level meeting' at the European Parliament regarding the worldwide persecution of Christians, and later spoke at the Maranatha Community Annual Lecture in Manchester on the role of Faith in Politics.


2 December 2015


Held within the framework of Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), a meeting hosted by Mr. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and Mr. Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Parliament, was held at the European Parliament on 1 December 2015 themed ‘The persecution of Christians in the world- A call for action.'

Contributors spoke on the condition of Christians facing persecution across the world, and provided case studies for the Balkans, Pakistan, Sinai, Iraq, and Eritrea. At the meeting, HG Bishop Angaelos stressed the essential need for collaborative advocacy in efforts to help those persecuted worldwide.

After the meeting Bishop Angaelos spoke with both the President and Vice-President of the European Parliament of the need to find ways of future collaboration and co-operation. Speaking from Brussels Bishop Angaelos went on to say:

“It was an effective gathering of people who are very active and committed to working for the persecuted and vulnerable around the world. What is clear however, is that we need to continue finding ways to collaborate without losing the individuality of organisations, but in such a way as to maximise the impact of our combined efforts.”

Later in the day, Bishop Angaelos returned to the United Kingdom to deliver the annual address at the annual Maranatha Community Lecture on ‘Faith in Politics.’

Speaking on the role of Faith in politics he said:     

“Our Christian Faith is an intrinsic part of who we are, as created in the Image and Likeness of God, and so it is meant to be indivisible from who we are and what we do at all times. Our Faith must always determine our ethics, morals, principles and actions.”    

Addressing those involved in politics, Bishop Angaelos said:    

“It is within the context of our Faith, forming our identity, that we must speak boldly, but doing so in a way that makes sense to those listening. In presenting our principles, aspirations and demands, what we say must always be relevant and gracious, and spoken in such a way that ensures it is heard and understood.”

Speaking about advocacy and politics, he went on to say:          

“Christians have a responsibility to advocate and speak for the rights and freedoms of all those for whom those rights are threatened or violated, regardless of their religion. We should be able to speak for justice, equality and God-given human rights, as this is core to our Faith. Religious leaders must act as a moral compass, not a driving force affected by party politics...”          


Bishop Angaelos concluded with a passage from Scripture, highlighting the power and beauty of unity and the boldness of true witness:     

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance... And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers…and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.” (Acts 2:1,4,43)


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Press Release: Bishop Angaelos contributes to migration crisis debate during Church of England General Synod 2015

Press Release: Bishop Angaelos contributes to migration crisis debate during Church of England General Synod 2015

25 November 2015

Addressing the situation facing Christians in the Middle East, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, called for continued ecumenical and inter-religious collaboration in response to the complex crisis facing refugees.

Speaking of the crisis as an opportunity for Christians and the Church to act, Bishop Angaelos said:

“We are a united Body of Christ, there is no Church of the East and Church of the West; it is one Body and it suffers equally, and so we need to approach this matter collaboratively. These are, after all, vulnerable people, not merely statistics. We also extend this voice of advocacy to non-Christians, as we cannot just look after 'our own'.”
He went on to say:
“This situation does however present a wonderful opportunity, because there is no greater place for light than in the most abject darkness; so we are here as that light and that hope…We are not here to worry or fear, but to think how we can collaborate. Taking inspiration from Saint Francis, we must work to be the living scripture before all.”
Photo by Geoff Crawford
Reassuring members of the Synod that the crisis is not theirs alone to respond to, Bishop Angaelos concluded by saying:
“We need to collaborate ecumenically as this is not a problem for just the Church of England, but the Church IN England. We are here to work together as Churches with our networks in the United Kingdom and in the Middle East.”
Bishop Angaelos went on to say:
“We must also remember to support our inter-religious friends when they speak out powerfully, as they too become targets.”
He concluded by saying:
“I am thankful for my presence here ecumenically and I see myself as a voice in and a voice out. As a voice in I bring you the voices of the Middle East Church leaders both here in the United Kingdom and across the Middle East who value your support. As a voice out I will present the sentiments that I have felt personally in this chamber that their brothers and sisters here want to support them in every way, and in the words of Revelation 1:9 we do indeed “share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance”.
Following his contribution, The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, urged Synod to:
“Listen carefully to the powerful words of Bishop Angaelos and his colleagues from that part of the world that the ideal situation is not simply, as one of them put it, to create a drain for the people of those countries to escape, but create the means by which they can stay in prosperity, in flourishing and in safety”.
During his contribution, Bishop Angaelos commended the work of many within the Church of England including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the Bishops of Durham and Croydon for their continued efforts in responding to the crisis and raising awareness to it. Among others, His Grace also acknowledged the contribution of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Baroness Anelay, Minister for the MENA region Tobias Elwood, and the newly-appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Richard Harrington MP.

This debate came on the second day of Synod, following its inauguration by Her Majesty The Queen on 24 November 2015.

*Ends*

Resources:

  • Submission by HG Bishop Angaelos to the International Development Committee’s inquiry into the Government’s response to the Syrian Refugee crisis HERE
  • Statements and comments by HG Bishop Angaelos regarding the refugee crisis via www.CopticMediaUK.com



Sunday, 15 November 2015

Press Release: Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos regarding the recent attacks in Paris


Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

15 November 2015

As the full extent of the tragic aftermath of the indiscriminate brutality witnessed in Paris becomes more apparent, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and loved ones of all who have lost their lives so tragically, and those who will continue to live with the injury and trauma suffered as a result of these horrific events.

These scenes of intentionally brutal and unmerciful violence around the world, most recently in Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt and Syria, are becoming an all too familiar component of our daily lives, yet the effect of such inhumane acts against innocent individuals and families remains deeply traumatic and painful for all touched by them, both directly and indirectly. 

Our world today has become full of such disregard for the sanctity and value of every human life, but as we have seen over the past days, the response of so many paying tribute to, and showing their support for and solidarity with, France shows that there is an inextinguishable mercy, hope and light at the heart of humanity as a whole that is capable of collectively overcoming any darkness faced.

We must never lose sight of the effectiveness of prayer, nor of the powerful impact that our collective acts of solidarity offer in confronting such evil and the fear it inevitably instils; for it is that goodness in the world that causes evil to be cast out. We must therefore remember that although the constantly-streaming news we see, hear and read points to a very bleak world filled with darkness, a powerful light continues to shine through the acts of brave and hopeful individuals and communities, propagating this hope further. 

As Christians, we are given a very specific instruction in chapter 5 of the Gospel of Saint Matthew: "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..." because in so doing, we become true children of our Father in heaven. With this spirit, we pray for hearts bent on harm and destruction to be changed, a transition we ourselves are familiar with in the life of the great Saint Paul who started his life as Saul, persecutor of the early Church. We can never truly know when and how such acts of rampant violence will cease, but we pray for those who commit them to realise the full, wasteful and devastating impact of their actions on the lives of so many who bleed and mourn just as they do. We also pray that the pain, anger and resentment caused by these events do not corrupt good hearts or tear communities apart.  

As families mourn the loss of loved ones in Paris, we pray that God gives comfort and peace to all who feel they have lost much. As so many around the world continue to suffer the effects of intolerance and an ever-narrowing perspective of some regarding who does and does not deserve to live, and as many seek refuge from persecution and war-torn regions, our prayers are also offered for them as they encounter such adversity and difficulty in striving for freedom and refuge. 

May we never lose sight of the powerful and hope-filled message of Saint Paul himself to the Corinthians, that we are "...hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed..."


*Ends*

Sermon by His Grace Bishop Angaelos following the Paris attacks: http://bit.ly/1MPKd06