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.



  • 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

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..."


Sermon by His Grace Bishop Angaelos following the Paris attacks:

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Press Release: Bishop Angaelos gives address on refugee crisis at WCC Consultation in Munich

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

Bishop Angaelos gives address on refugee crisis at World Council of Churches Church Leaders Consultation in Munich

29 October 2015

His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, spoke of the challenges and opportunities of the current refugee crisis at a World Council of Churches Consultation in Munich, Germany, jointly hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria (ELKB), the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the World Council of Churches (WCC).

During his address, Bishop Angaelos said:

“We are not only witnessing the immense displacement of vulnerable people fleeing war-torn countries, but a dehumanisation and a loss of dignity of those people…they do not leave their countries unless they feel that they no longer have a viable presence there. We need to look with a new heart, to encourage our states and governments, and all who make decisions, to look at these people as more than mere statistics.”

Speaking of ways to address the crisis, he went on to say:

“This epidemic that we are seeing needs to be addressed collaboratively, across the Church and across religions, nation states, organisations, and international bodies. This crisis is larger than any one person, state, religion, or organisation, and so we need to encourage one another to move on in active collaboration. Without a streamlining of our efforts, we will see a wastage of both human and material resources.”

In conclusion, Bishop Angaelos gave a message of hope:

“As Christians we believe that there is always hope; this is a great opportunity for us all to be light in an abject darkness, and a light that can and will make a difference.”

In speaking about the consultation shortly after his address, Bishop Angaelos said:

“This is a welcomed initiative of WCC and its member Churches to bring Church leaders together from across Europe and discuss the implications both, in the Middle East and in Europe, of what we see unfolding at the moment.

It is widely agreed here that there is a major and complex situation in the Middle East, and that Christians and others are facing immense pressures, living in great risk because of the conflict that is occurring around them.

As I have been saying all along, the complexity of the unfolding situation in the Middle East necessitates a coordinated and collaborative response encompassing nation states, as well as religious and non-governmental organisations and bodies. While this is a great challenge, it is not one that cannot be met if we work together to safeguard those most vulnerable.”

Taking part in the consultation were 35 bishops and Church leaders from 20 countries, and representatives from a variety of Churches across Europe.

The programme included presentations and discussions surrounding values and perspectives in the public sphere, along with discussions of possible future strategies and steps for action to assist those affected by the crisis.


Friday, 23 October 2015

Press release: Victims of religious persecution remembered in annual Coptic New Year Service, Westminster Abbey

For immediate use

Coptic Orthodox Church UK

Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

23 October 2015

Victims of religious persecution remembered during the annual Coptic New Year service at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey on 22 October 2015 with messages from HRH The Prince of Wales, Prime Minister David Cameron, and The Archbishop of Canterbury.

In his sermon to members of the House of Lords, House of Commons, members of the diplomatic corps and various ecumenical, inter-religious and official guests, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, marked 2015 as a year of commemoration, marking the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide and the end of WW1, as well as the year in which the United Kingdom celebrates HM The Queen as its longest reigning monarch. He continued that it is also a year that will be commemorated in history with regards to matters of international religious freedom. 

Speaking about the brutal murder of Coptic and Ethiopian Christians in Libya earlier this year he said:

“This has been a year during which a line of unparalleled evil has been crossed, and this has touched us all personally.
It is also a year during which there has been an expression of solidarity from prominent figures, including His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister David Cameron, along with the vast breadth of the Christian family in Britain and around the world, and brothers and sisters from a multitude of faiths.  
We must however see this as a year of opportunity, to break the darkness that increasingly surrounds us day after day with light and hope. This is a time for us all to stand in solidarity.”
Touching on the Government’s Syrian refugee scheme, Bishop Angaelos said:
“We welcome the fact that our nation has decided to accept 20,000 refugees, and undoubtedly we need to do more, but let us be thankful for the start of this initiative and continue to work together to help those most vulnerable.”
In a message from the Right Honourable David Cameron, Prime Minister, read by The Baroness Berridge of The Vale of Catmose, the following was said:
“I recognise that this is one of the most auspicious days within the Coptic Calendar and an important occasion not only to give thanks, but also to remember those who suffer for their faith around the world.”
Going on to say:
“I believe that our communities here in Britain and abroad have been strengthened by the strong voice and leadership provided by the Coptic Orthodox Church.”
In a message from The Most Rev. and the Rt Hon. the Archbishop of Canterbury, read by The Right Reverend Christopher Chessun, the Coptic New Year was spoken of as an occasion for thankfulness, yet also:
“…one of somber commemoration of the martyrs of the past two millennia, particularly the Armenian martyrs and our Coptic and Ethiopian brothers in Christ who recently gave their lives in Libya …For us it is a reminder to be persistent in our commitment to prayer and solidarity.”
Bishop Christopher, in his address, thanked the leadership of the Coptic Church for:
“…drawing attention to the struggles and challenges faced by people in the Middle East, both Christians and others, and in particular the plight of refugees from the nations of the Middle East.”
Baroness Berridge, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief spoke of the many unable to worship freely in the Middle East, saying:
“How wonderful it is that an Orthodox service can be celebrated here in the United Kingdom…but there are places in the Middle East where that service is no longer celebrated…”
Referring to the OBE conferred upon Bishop Angaelos by Her Majesty The Queen, Baroness Berridge also mentioned that this is the first time that such an award has been given for International Religious Freedom, expressing that it is indicative of the times and in recognition of the work that has been done by Bishop Angaelos and the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Referring to the work of the APPG and the role of the Coptic Church, she went on to say:

“In our country we have been given the resources to do the work that we need to do, but it is only through the generosity of others that we can do that work, and I do want to pay tribute for the continued and faithful support of the Coptic Orthodox Church for the parliamentary work here in the UK.”

The service commenced with a welcome and short address from The Reverend Canon Andrew Tremlett, Canon of Westminster & Rector of St Margaret’s Church, who said:
“…the continuing events of the Middle East bring into sharp focus the need for prayer, solidarity, and common cause which tonight’s service represents.”

Monday, 19 October 2015

Press Release: Historic prayers at St Paul's Cathedral on the same day Bishop Angaelos receives OBE

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
                          Media and Communications Office

Historic prayers at St Paul’s Cathedral for victims of religious persecution on the same day that Bishop Angaelos receives an OBE for ‘Services to International Religious Freedom’

19 October 2015
The Coptic Orthodox Church held an unprecedented prayer service in the Order of the British Empire Chapel in St Paul’s Cathedral, following an evensong service on Friday 16 October 2015 dedicated to victims of religious persecution and refugees suffering as a result of conflict in the Middle East.
Evensong was led by The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, and attended by The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, and His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom. Also attending the service were a number of ecumenical, diplomatic and official guests, alongside members of the Coptic community in London.
Following evensong, a Coptic Orthodox service of prayer was led by Bishop Angaelos in the Order of the British Empire Chapel for victims of religious persecution around the world. Prayers were again offered for refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East.
At the start of the prayer service the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral gave a welcome address, in which he said:
“You are very welcome to be here on this day as Bishop Angaelos has received the award of the Order of the British Empire and is now with us in this joyful yet solemn occasion, doing what his award is for; promoting religious freedom. Although it is a day of joy for us, it is also a day of sadness in that there are many in the world who do not have religious freedom, and the work continues.”  
In his message, Bishop Angaelos said:

“I am thankful for the wonderful and gracious hospitality we have received, in being able to use this great Cathedral, this place of prayer, and the cornerstone of life in London and in Britain, to celebrate both evensong with the Church of England and to pray the Coptic Rite together in this Chapel for the first time. There is no greater representation of love, fellowship, companionship and a single journey that we all travel together in this great Nation, as the Body of Christ.”

“Being here and praying for those who are still victims of religious persecution is bitter sweet, because it is a shame that we still need to. We must continue to pray for all who suffer, as this tragic situation is still a reality, not only for Christians, but for many around the world in numerous countries.”

“We pray for those living hardship and persecution, and those seeking refuge, as well as those who are accepting them so graciously…We must be appreciative of the hospitality currently offered, even if we continue to strive in extending this hospitality further.”

The prayers at St Paul’s Cathedral were offered on the same day that Bishop Angaelos was formally invested as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for ‘Services to International Religious Freedom’ by Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor Castle.

After the prayer service, The Bishop of London said: 

“The Order has been one that recognises outstanding contributions, excellence and achievement in all sorts of fields…it is a particular honour that now we have as a most distinguished member of the Order, Bishop Angaelos.”

He went on to thank Bishop Angaelos for:

“…his immense work…to bring together not only Christians, but people of all faiths in this Country.”     

Baroness Berridge, Co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, said:

“His Grace has been a very keen supporter of the work that we are doing in parliament, and an amazing support to those of us who are standing up for religious freedom, and he has also introduced us to the wider community.”


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Resources regarding HG Bishop Angaelos on international religious freedom:

Friday, 9 October 2015

Press Release: Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission publishes historic 'Agreed Statement on Christology'

9 October 2015

Historic agreements on the incarnation of Christ
and procession of the Holy Spirit

© Nathaniel Ramanaden
Historic agreements have been signed between Anglican and Oriental Orthodox Churches helping to heal the oldest continuing division within Christianity.

An Agreed Statement on Christology, published in North Wales this week by the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission, heals the centuries-old split between the Anglican Churches within the family of Chalcedonian Churches and the non-Chalcedonian Churches over the incarnation of Christ.

In addition, the Commission has made substantial progress on issues concerning the Holy Spirit, which have continued to keep the Churches apart over the centuries.

Leading clergy and theologians from both Christian traditions from around the world have been meeting at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden to engage in theological dialogue, while at the same time forging deeper bonds of faith and mutual support.

His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy from the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria in Egypt and Co-Chair of the Commission said: “With this agreement we are able to heal the cause of the division between the two families of the churches worldwide which started at Chalcedon.
“There are other things which emerged during the long history since Chalcedon in the fifth century, so we have on our agenda many other topics including the position of the Holy Spirit, which we were able to sign a preliminary agreement on this subject also.

“The publication of our Agreed Statement on Christology is a great outcome of sharing dialogue together. It is a very beautiful piece of theology which is very encouraging and easily understandable to the people and pleasing to the theologians.”

The Commission has spent a week in North Wales talking and visiting church communities across the Diocese of St Asaph. Speaking during Evensong at St Asaph Cathedral, the Anglican Co-Chair of the Commission, The Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, who hosted the visit, said: “It’s a privilege to welcome you to this building which has seen worship every day for at least 800 years, although this is a tradition which can be easily matched and bettered by the Churches of the East.

© Neil Vigers
“Ecumenical dialogue can be long, but beneath the process is the love shared between Christians, and it is that love and affection which draws us together and back to dialogue and mutual understanding.”

The Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission was established in 2001 to strengthen the relationships between the different Churches and to discuss important theological issues, such as Christology, which divided the Church at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD.
The dialogue was halted in 2003 following the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson in the Episcopal Church (in the United States) but resumed in 2013 with good progress being made since.
As well as dialogue, the Commission worshipped and prayed, sharing the urgent concerns of members from the Middle East, especially in the critical situations in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other regions. 

Metropolitan Polycarp Augin Aydın from the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Netherlands explained why this agreement is important now: “Because of immigration we now find ourselves side by side as neighbours. In the past we used to talk about Eastern and Western Christianity but this is no longer the case. There are Eastern Christians who live in the Western Countries and vice versa. Therefore we have to dialogue with each other and to really learn from one another and to really share our treasures with one another.”

Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK said:

"The world we are living in today is a world that needs us as Christians to stand together.

© Neil Vigers
"Around our commission table, we have the Armenians commemorating the Armenian Genocide, the Syrians and Iraqis whose countries are war-torn and peoples displaced, the Copts who have lost 21 of their men to that horrific martyrdom in Libya, the Ethiopians likewise in Libya, and here in Europe we also have our own struggles. It is very much time for us to stand together as Church leaders and to recognise what we have in common while at the same time respecting the differences we have."

"Over the past 15 years since 9/11 there has been a huge appetite for us to work with other religions but unfortunately I have not seen the same appetite for many people to work with other Churches. It becomes fashionable to be able to dialogue with inter-faith communities but we do not celebrate with each other or accept each other as we are; we want others to fit into a certain mould. So I think this dialogue acknowledges that we might have different teachings on things and some matters we may never resolve, and that is the reality of it, but we are not trying to be the same, we are trying to work on what we have in common."

For the two Church families this agreement is ground-breaking and could be a model for future ecumenical dialogue. The Very Revd Archimandrite Shahe Ananyan from the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church said: “Every signed ecumenical official document has its difficulties and has its advantages also. This document I think is a model for other Christological dialogues between Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches which need to re-start. I think this document could be served as a model for subsequently developed dialogues.”
© Neil Vigers

The Commission will meet again in Lebanon from 24-29 October 2016, where it is expected that dialogue on the Holy Spirit will continue.


Click here to read the complete text of the AOOIC agreed statement on Christology, which can also be purchased from the Anglican Communion's online shop.

For further information or to arrange an interview with one of the Commission members, please contact Karen Maurice, Communications Officer for the Diocese of St Asaph 01745 532588 / 01745 582245 or mobile 07918133420 or email

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Comment by His Grace Bishop Angaelos on the refugee crisis

Welcoming those less fortunate
By His Grace Bishop Angaelos,
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
Until now, the Middle East crisis has been contained in that part of the world, and has, for some, become somewhat of a distant reality. If we have occasionally been moved by what we have seen or heard in reports, we have also had the relative comfort of being several steps removed from the situation. Now however, we are witnessing the movement of tens of thousands of desperate people fleeing that crisis and approaching the shores of Europe to seek refuge, and so the issue has become much more immediate and closer to home.
I have recently visited both refugee camps in Erbil and transit camps on the Greek-Macedonian (FYROM) border at Idomeni, and have therefore seen this humanitarian tragedy from both sides. This has provided an invaluable opportunity to personally meet and speak with many humanitarian aid workers and volunteers, as well as those in camps, and those making the dangerous journey. It has also further reinforced my view that this is a humanitarian crisis of a scale unseen since the Second World War, and that it can only be satisfactorily addressed, let alone resolved, through collaboration among and between states, NGOs and religious institutions. 
During my visit to Idomeni it was painful to hear a young Syrian man say “…in Syria we are now used to quick deaths that come with bombs or shootings, but what we are experiencing in these journeys is a slow death.” The fact that these refugees willingly travel, sometimes with their children, in what they themselves call ‘death boats’ is proof of the desperate situations they are fleeing, and their struggle should not be belittled.
Along these journeys, vulnerable refugees, many of whom are children and minors, become easy prey for trafficking and organised crime gangs that exploit this vulnerability in a way that shames our humanity. We must therefore not close our ears to the cries of those who flee the horrors of their day-to-day existence in war-torn homelands to face even more horrific journeys. As more borders close, refugees who have already sacrificed almost everything will still find alternate routes because they have nothing to lose. In anticipation, we must collaborate to formulate a coherent and humane response and continue to protect those in greatest need while recognising and preserving their dignity.
As the United Kingdom prepares to welcome refugees from camps bordering Syria under the Government’s Vulnerable People Relocation Scheme (VPRS), it is imperative that we look at the whole issue of asylum with renewed insight. Until now, refugees have been considered by many as a potential burden and/or threat on and to our communities, and an additional drain on our economy. Looking with humane eyes however, we must realise that the majority of these vulnerable individuals have experienced immense suffering and loss and have not wanted to, but have been compelled to, leave their countries, communities, and all they have behind. Many have even more tragically also lost loved ones in this ongoing conflict.
The Prime Minister’s initiative to accept 20,000 refugees from camps bordering Syria over the next five years is welcomed, as it will indeed make a significant difference to those people and their families. While this is a start to solving a problem that is now of immense magnitude, we are also hopeful that these numbers will be revisited over time, and increased when possible to accommodate the ever-increasing flow of people fleeing conflict, war and persecution. As we see people come into the United Kingdom under this scheme or others, it is worth considering our outlook on the overall situation.
I was moved by the call of a senior figure within UNHCR Greece during my recent visit, who challenged us as Church leaders to make the teaching of Matthew 25 manifest: “Come, you blessed of My Father… for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” This commandment is timeless and without exception, it applies today just as much as it did 2000 years ago when our Lord Jesus Christ Himself sought refuge in Egypt, fleeing adversity (Matthew 2:13).
As we do our utmost to serve those in great need, we pray for the millions currently displaced, those currently in refugee camps, and others who have embarked on treacherous journeys fleeing war and conflict; we also pray for policy makers, aid workers and volunteers who are dealing with this complex situation first-hand.
Find out more about His Grace’s visit to Greece via

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Statement on the proposal to legalise assisted suicide by HG Bishop Angaelos

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

Statement on the proposal to legalise assisted suicide
By His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church
in the United Kingdom

As we approach the UK Parliament debate on the proposed ‘assisted dying bill’, we must ensure that this discussion is conducted within the context of a clear understanding of the sanctity of life and the inevitability of death. At the outset, the selective use of the term ‘assisted dying’ over ‘assisted suicide’ shifts the focus from the fact that this act will essentially legitimise and facilitate the premature taking of one’s own life.

An open letter addressed to parliamentarians regarding the ‘assisted dying’ bill was published in the Guardian on 5 September 2015, signed by various Faith leaders, of which I was one. This letter which opposed the bill outlined the following key concerns:

  • “If passed, it will directly affect not only those who are terminally ill and who wish to end their lives, but also their families and friends and the health professionals who care for them”
  • “It also has the potential to have a significant impact on other vulnerable individuals: those who believe that they have become burdens to family and carers and feel under pressure within themselves to 'do the decent thing' and, tragically, those who might be pressured by others to seek a medically-assisted death”
  • "In the UK some 500,000 elderly people are abused each year, most by family members, often for financial reasons. Many of these would also be vulnerable to pressure to end their lives prematurely”
  • “For many, a change in the law would result, not in great comfort, but in an added burden to consider ending their lives prematurely; a burden they ought not be asked to bear”

We have an age-old duty of care, especially to those closest to us, and this proposed change could in certain situations deprive us of giving that care to those who may consider themselves purely as a burden, and thus seek the premature ending of their own lives.

It is encouraging that the vast majority of doctors and healthcare professionals entrusted with front-line care for terminal patients see their role as being either to provide treatment or the appropriate palliative care, according to their medical judgement, but not as actively encouraging or taking part in ending life.

In not knowing when life will end, we continue to live that life to its fullest and impact the world around us, even at an advanced age or when experiencing the greatest illness. If we are now placed in a position to decide when life can or should indeed end, whether it be ours or others, this could significantly affect how we live our life, and would create a constant dilemma for many as to when the ‘right time’ to end it would be.

One unsettling element of the proposed bill is that it qualifies a person for assisted suicide if he or she is “reasonably expected to die within six months” leaving no room for the uncertainty which we know to still be part of our medical science even today. My own pastoral experience has brought me to minister to many diagnosed with terminal illness who have lived far beyond their prescribed life-expectancy. One brother bishop in particular who was told that he had 6 months to live 7 years ago continues to effectively shepherd his flock until today.

At a time when we see tens of thousands of people coming to our shores, fleeing death and seeking a better chance of life, this bill essentially seeks to advocate for those within those same shores to end their lives; a stark contrast indeed. Rather than looking at ways to legitimately end life, our focus should be on how to allow people to live and safeguard it as a precious gift.

Regardless of the outcome of this debate, it must be acknowledged that being in a place where death seems preferable to life, whether our own or others, is one of immense pain, and so we pray comfort for those suffering that pain, those seeing loved ones suffering before them, and for the wide variety of healthcare and support professionals who deal with them at various stages of their journey.


Friday, 4 September 2015

Statement on the refugee crisis in Europe by HG Bishop Angaelos

For immediate use
Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

Statement on the refugee crisis in Europe
By His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church
in the United Kingdom

4 September 2015 

Having seen heartbreaking images of the lifeless and abandoned body of young Aylan Kurdi lying alone on a beach in Turkey puts an all too gruesome optic to a matter either in the forefront or background of every mind over the past months. The images we have now become too accustomed to seeing may have desensitised some, but the horrific reality of the situation remains; thousands of people continue to risk all, even their lives, to seek the safety that we are thankfully free to live on a daily basis.

Whether it is Aylan, his family, or the countless thousands of others making the treacherous journey to flee conflict and find a better life, we must now realise that the solution to this crisis is greater than for individual Churches, religions, communities, or even states to address alone, and so a more universal, integrated and collaborative approach to make the best of limited human and material resources, must be sought.

The Church of Egypt is no stranger to the issue of asylum as it was Egypt that accepted and embraced the infant Christ and His family as refugees when they fled targeted and intentional persecution. It is indeed telling that while the world has apparently progressed over millennia since then, the problems and challenges remain the same.

As a Church with its roots in the Middle East we are very aware of the struggles faced by people in the region, Christians and others. It is essential that the plight of these refugees is not belittled or ignored, as they face very real challenges in their homelands, living with a daily threat to their livelihood and even existence.

At a time of increasing economic pressure in Europe and a greater fear of importing radical elements seeking to destabilise our communities, it is understandable that caution must be exercised. Having said that however, that caution should not mean a blanket rejection of the vast majority of those coming who are genuinely seeking safety for themselves and their families. What is concerning is abrasive rhetoric in the media and public sphere, leading to the constant dehumanisation of people who are undoubtedly victims of this conflict, to the extent that many now see them simply as an impending risk to their communities, putting aside their basic rights and needs. What we must realise is that many of these people, indigenous to their homelands, are not fleeing out of choice or preference but out of sheer necessity.

This is undoubtedly an extremely complex issue that involves geo-politics, global economics, European economies and borders, state and regional security, as well as an increasingly volatile Middle East, but as I have mentioned previously, we must not be prescriptive to people living in crisis on whether or not they should stay and fight in their war-torn countries, or flee for their lives. Whatever their choices may be, we must advocate to either safeguard their continued presence or provide an alternative if they cease to see a viable continuity in their homelands.

It is encouraging, that over the past few days there has been a greater intention and appetite for a pragmatic and compassionate response to this increasing refugee crisis in seeking practical solutions whatever they may be.

The Scriptures are timeless in their direction, and when the Lord God instructs His people to care for the widow, orphan, traveller and stranger (Deuteronomy 10:18) that was not meant exclusively for His immediate audience alone, but to the whole of humanity over time.

These challenging events remind us of the brokenness of our humanity, but as Christians we also recognise the ability of God to heal that brokenness. For that reason, we pray confidently for solutions in the homelands of those fleeing, the countries that may extend whatever hospitality they can, and above all, safety for many who make these dangerous journeys out of sheer desperation.   


Friday, 26 June 2015

Comment by HG Bishop Angaelos re brutal killings in France, Tunisia and Kuwait

Friday 26 June 2015

Comment by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, following the brutal killings in France, Tunisia and Kuwait on 26 June 2015

The brutal killings in France, Tunisia and Kuwait today show the vulnerability of our humanity, not only in those who died so needlessly and tragically, but also in those who were able to murder so brutally, mercilessly and intentionally. Once again the world witnesses the unnecessary claiming of innocent lives, a now far too familiar yet wholly unacceptable occurrence in the 21st Century. These horrific events indicate the increasing need for us all to continue to hold ourselves, as well as others, accountable for what we as fellow humans perceive to be the sanctity of human life because such intolerance, hatred and the objectification of others stems from an inability to recognise that shared humanity.

We pray for those whose lives have been taken, as well as for their families and communities, and for all those who will continue to fear and be traumatised by these horrific events. In the spirit of Christian forgiveness we also continue to pray, as we have in the past, for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, that they may one day look upon those they have killed with a sense of remorse and grief, realising that they have deprived their families of a vibrant and beautiful future with them.

May God grant us and the world His peace, strength and healing, that incidents such as these may cease and that, in the interim, we have the strength to continue to speak out and seek a solution, and find an end, to such tragic and needless acts.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

His Grace Bishop Angaelos to be conferred the honour of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to International Religious Freedom

His Grace Bishop Angaelos to be conferred the honour of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to International Religious Freedom

It was announced on 13 June 2015 that His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom would be conferred the honour of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty The Queen, 'For Services to International Religious Freedom.'

The honours system, founded during the First World War in 1917 by George V, now serves to recognise people who have made achievements in public life and committed themselves to serving and helping Britain. Over the past years Bishop Angaelos has worked tirelessly to advocate for religious freedom, releasing statements calling for the protection of God-given rights and freedoms for all, testifying in the United States Congress on human rights abuses, taking part in a variety of media interviews to raise awareness of a number of issues in the Middle East, and organising and engaging in numerous ecumenical, governmental and non-governmental meetings and events focusing on the protection of basic human rights and freedoms.

Through his work, the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom is a supporter of, and works in conjunction with, the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, and Bishop Angaelos as founder and convenor of, and driving force behind the Asylum Advocacy Group, works to help the vulnerable. His efforts have brought together organisations and parties who have never previously collaborated and the group has seen an effective result with the UK Home Office border agency regarding asylum cases, with a continuity that other organisations have not experienced.

In 2013 he became the first Coptic clergyman to testify in the United States Congress. Approached to attest to human rights abuses in Egypt since the 2011 uprising due to his knowledge and public voicing of the matter, he spoke of human rights and religious freedom violations facing Christians, secularists, women, those suffering poverty and various minorities. He is a pioneer in advocating for human rights and freedom for all as his testimony, among other efforts, has given a voice to people of all faiths.

In April 2015 at an international conference in Bari, Italy addressing extreme challenges faced by Christians in the Middle East, Bishop Angaelos called for greater collaboration between Churches, governments, organisations, and similar initiatives that would lead to greater results for all. He warned that “a lack of coordination will lead to a fragmentation of what should be a very powerful voice of advocacy, as well as duplication and the wastage of resources that are already limited in light of the immense need.”

Highlighting the need to refer to minority communities in the Middle East more precisely in discourse and in the media, Bishop Angaelos went on to say: “This issue must be transformed from one of ‘minorities’ to that of indigenous people who have had their roots in these lands for not only decades or centuries but millennia. They are an intrinsic part of, and a stabilising force in, the region, and losing them would be a loss to the whole world as they are, through their continuous presence, part of the history, institution and constitution of the Middle East.”

Since the establishment of the Media and Communications Office in the United Kingdom in 2011, Bishop Angaelos’ statements have been far-reaching, calling for justice and the protection of basic rights and freedoms. His statements to-date have been particularly striking due to their all-encompassing nature, speaking for the rights of all communities, not merely his own.

His message of forgiveness following the brutal murder of Coptic Christians in Libya in February 2015 had a significant impact on the media coverage of that event and helped to further raise awareness of the plight of so many killed for their faith, and their families and communities who are left behind. In launching the ‘When Left Behind’ appeal for the families of those who died in Libya, Bishop Angaelos attracted comment and support from figures such as His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, and numerous others in their private and official capacities, both nationally and internationally.

Bishop Angaelos continues to work in the sphere of international religious freedom, and on receiving news of his award, said:

“I am humbled by this award because I see it as my role and duty to advocate for religious freedom as part of my ministry. While I am thankful for this great honour, it also comes with a sense of sadness that in the 21st Century we still need to defend people’s God-given rights and freedoms in this way. I consider this an award to every person who has worked with and supported me along the way and pray that God rewards and blesses them for all they have done and all they will continue to do. I must also express my sincere gratitude to Her Majesty The Queen and the Prime Minister for considering this cause worthy of such public acknowledgement.”

Watch various talks and interviews with His Grace Bishop Angaelos concerning International Religious Freedom via and read his statements via Follow His Grace on twitter via