Coptic Church · Unique

Let The Protests Continue!

By Bishoy Marcus

Let the protests continue!

It is with great frustration and utter bewilderment that I write this post. I have never commented or written about this issue and I understand people get edgy and nervous when it is mentioned. The issue at hand what is the role of the clergy and the state.

In the last few hours as hundreds of thousands of Copts protested in absolute resilience and bravery, chanting and proclaiming to the world their many injustices inflicted upon them by the state, HH Pope Shenouda issued a rather demoralising and disheartning statement declaring that the protests conclude and Maspeero be emptied immediately.

What is the position of the church when it comes to the human rights of its followers? What is the role of the clergy?

It is without a doubt a two pronged question. Our Lord Jesus Christ when he instituted the sacrament of priesthood gave them authority over sin. On top of this he gave them authority to officiate the sacraments of the church. To be honest this is where the line needs to be drawn. State and Church should never mix!

When state and church mix it is subject to the government of the day. It is subject to ordering such protests to cease for the reputation of the state. It is subject to bow down in passivity accepting the governments’ promises even though they have proven futile time and time again. It is subject to political correctness, and the word of truth becomes fire because it becomes an attack not on society but on the government. It is subject to political tensions such as that of Palestine and Israel where it has to make decisions like forbidding Copts from going to Jerusalem. It truly is a way destined for destruction of the fundamental foundation of Christianity.

The clergy are not ordained to order and boss people around, they are ordained and their profession instated by God in order that they may be shepherds for their flock. The role of the shepherd is to protect his sheep. If the sheep are being murdered he stands and defends them. If the sheep are being abducted he stands and fights for their return. If the sheep are being dealt with unjustly, he fights for their justice. This is true priesthood. Priesthood is not an occupation where you are subject to the state; rather you are the subject of your sheep. The true Shepherd stands for the sheep and fights on their behalf.  He knows the sheep, and his sheep know him. How then can the Shepherd know his sheep if he is a dictator to them. What sin have the sheep committed when they stand and protest about the injustices bestowed upon them by the state? If the shepherd forces himself on the sheep he is not a shepherd but a wolf that prowls around waiting for whom he may devour

The Coptic Church truly needs to make this distinction between the church and state immediately. It needs to separate itself from the governments of the day. It needs to return back to the original model of the church, where the priesthood was instituted to take and lead people to heaven – the spiritual side of life. This is the reason Christ instituted priesthood and not for any other reason.

To the Copts in Maspeero, stand strong my brothers and sisters in the faith. It is time to rise up and shout for equality and your fundamental rights. You fall into no sin protesting, heaven is watching you and listening to you. The lord promises us, “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” (Luke 18:7-8)

You are the ones who cry out day and night, the Lord will hear your prayers and cry’s, then all of the world will know what Isaiah meant when he said “Blessed is Egypt My People”.

Let our prayer be that the Church and State Divide!

Let us be obedient in what is right not wrong!

4 thoughts on “Let The Protests Continue!

  1. Protesting doesn’t solve EVERYTHING and sometimes anything!

    HH Pope Shenouda III – Although many like yourself may not agree with him – I’m 100% sure he sees something that we don’t see and makes this decision/statement with reasons beyond our understanding. Why aren’t you trusting that God chose him as the leader of our Church who is making legit decisions?

    Anyways Bishoy, when’s the last time you’ve been in Egypt?

    You have a perspective that i’m sure many agree with… but still….. not everything is as clear as we see it!

    Ps. check my last blog lol

  2. In Egypt the only way things happen is when people protest.

    Further we forget the immense political pressure the Pope is under. What he says to the world may not be what he wants.

    The 1 000 000 man protesters in Egypt have it all worked out and no one has gone home.

    I went to Egypt about 7 years ago!

  3. Very interesting posts guys.

    Poor Bishoy,… I think you’ve just stirred up a hornet’s nest mate,…

    I think the Church’s political credentials have certainly taken a battering as a result of HH unwavering support for Mubarak. Very dangerous for the Coptic community,… when everyone else had abandonded the violent corrupt dictator, one of the only voices of support was from HH. I guess HH was banking on Mubarak pulling through, which I understand seemed like a pretty good bet at the time, given how long (and well) he’d managed to hold on to power.

    At the time, I was very worried that the Copts would become scapegoats in a post-Mubarak Egypt because of HH support for him. I also thought that the Church’s vocal opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood (without a doubt, the most popular political/social force in Egypt) would be viewed by many ordinary Muslims in a negative way, and lead to a hardening of attitudes towards us. I think that these two factors have dovetailed in a dangerous way, and are factors in the current violence.

    Another factor, which I don’t think should be discounted is the role of the security forces (now the army) in fanning the flames of violence. We now know that the Interior ministry was involved in the new years eve bombing in Alexandria. By keeping sectarian violence going in Egypt, they were trying to distract everyone from the handover of power from Hosney to his son Gamal in September, as well as justify the blockade of Gaza (since there was Palestinian involvement in the bombing). Both these issues were perhaps the most significant ‘policy’ issues on the minds of Egyptians. The question on my mind is this: Could the army be using the flare-up in Christian/Muslim violence to justify the extension/reintroduction of emergency laws, and the delay of democratic elections?

    But back on topic, I think we’re certainly going to need to see a shift in Coptic engagement in politics. Perhaps it is time for the Church hierarchy to “render unto Caesar what is Caeser’s”, and to leave politics to politicians, as Bishoy is kinda suggesting. But more importantly, I think we need to look beyond the current situation, as difficult as it may be, and consider the long term stability of the country, and the safety and well-being of everyone in it, Muslims and Christians alike. My gut feeling is that this will involve a great deal of faith and compromise on all sides (and there are more than two!). Unfortunately, I also think that internal harmony for Egypt will also result in regional instability.

    Maranatha!

  4. Hey Michael

    A battering they have taken indeed!

    I understand that the church hierarchy is in a very tough situation because they have allowed themselves to be drawn into the conflict.

    I also agree with your analysis of the situation in Egypt! Very Spot On

    I think a very simple rule should be followed. If you have nothing useful to say, say nothing!

    Maranatha!

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