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!