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Coptic Orthodox Church
Moving us embassy to Jerusalem
Coptic Orthodox Church
Why did the coptic pope/coptic church state it won’t recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel?
Here is an exerpt from an article I found:
"Meanwhile, the Coptic Orthodox Church similarly expressed severe concern over the Trump Administration’s intention to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying it “contradicts all international legitimacy and resolutions on Jerusalem,” and will negatively affect the stability of the Middle East and across the world.
The Church said it was imperative to preserve the legal status of Jerusalem within the agreed framework of international law and UN resolutions.
“The Church stands with efforts that push peace forward, and supports negotiation as the best means to establish a just situation and comprehensive peace,” the Church’s statement read."
Full Article (rest is about what Muslims say)
Doesn’t seem like a good reason for the church to get involved in politics. “Because the world says so”.
edited December 2017
Pope Tawadros has declined to meet US Vice President Mike Pence over this. The Church should not concern itself with such political matters. Pope Tawadros has consistently involved himself in politics and has consistently sided with Islamic scholars (literally our occupiers). His actions have not been to the benefit of the Copts. Maybe Pope Tawadros can explain to us what happened to all the Christians in his beloved Palestine? Or venture personally into Gaza?
I'm not sure if this is the actions of overzealous politicians who have taken over the Church or maybe there is a growing disconnect between Egyptian and diaspora Copts, the latter being largely are sympathetic to conservative/right-wing pro-Israel viewpoints in US, Canada, Autralia and Europe?
i suspect if u lived a few years in egypt it would make perfect sense.
Now we, the Coptic Church, has cancelled and are refusing to have a delegation meet VP Mike Pence.
The U.S. changing the embassy location goes against what the church has said in the past: That Jerusalem is a world holy site and that secular organizations should, excuse my French, keep their noses out of it. Trump did
exactly the opposite
. So of course it makes sense that H.H. would decline to meet with a leader who just did the exact opposite of what has been agreed on for a while.
And of course now, there is a risk of retaliation against the US or against Christians in the Middle East and Mediterranean area.
The church leaders routinely meet with the Egyptian leaders and other Arabic leaders who routinely do “exactly the opposite” of what the church believes teaches and does. So your explanation doesn’t sit well with me. It just seems Unnecessary for the church to continually get involved in politics. They should meet with pence and explain in a loving manner the Church position. Not decline a meeting. When we really need the USA why would they answer our call next time after we shun them.
hen we really need the USA why would they answer our call next time after we shun them."
who are "WE" exactly that you are talking about?! many many times His Holiness and bishops have said that the Church doesn't want anything from anyone outside Egypt, and specifically the West. Whatever we do here of protests or complaining, hurts everyone within egypt many times over. This happened in the past, and will always happen again and again.
I don’t dispute that but you ignored the rest of the statement.
So you think the church should be involved in world politics?
There isn't as easy way to answer that because the middle eastern way of thinking is that you cannot separate religion (any of them) from daily lives and therefore, the government and politics. So our western mindset of separation between church and state doesn't apply...and this is me speaking in general.
As to this specific case with Jerusalem...the Church has passed the point of no return when Pope Kyrillos VI and Pope Shenouda ordered that those who visit Jerusalem will be forbidden from taken communion for a specific period of time. Pope Tawadros follows the same path, but with some lenience.
edited December 2017
I think the ban was only under Pope Shenouda. From what I understand, priests and laity were still able to visit Jerusalem until Pope Kyrillos with no problems.
As for why Pope Tawadros did what he did, the answer is he had no choice in the matter. He is politically aligned with all other Arabs, Muslim or Christian, on this issue, and his silence would have hurt the Coptic people in Egypt. Furthermore, if Pope Tawadros is personally convinced he is doing the right thing, he is probably doing this as a way of standing for Palestinian human rights against perceived Israeli abuses.
So this isn’t an easy thing for the Church to ignore, and perhaps, Pope Tawadros did the right thing by refusing to meet with Pence.
I don’t mind the Pope issuing statements and refusing to meet the VP, as long as he does not excommunicate people who go visit.
Oh i see what you are saying. So you say it is ok for the church to be a political body too in addition to the bride of Christ.
I guess I just think of it as how does this decision or statement guide is to heaven?
For example, we know Rome had control of Jerusalem already at the time of Jesus ministry, but let’s say for example they weren’t already there and decided to build a fort or palace in Jerusalem when He was thirty or so years old. Would Christ Himself have issued a statement against Rome’s decision to put something in Jerusalem? Probably not. In fact the one time He was asked to get political He wisely said Give to Caesar what is Caesars. He didn’t say, well they shouldn’t be here, let’s not pay our tribute.
I don’t know. I guess I’m old school and feel the Church should focus on the heavenly and not the earthly, the eternal and not the temporal, the incorruptible and not the corruptible.
Perhaps you're thinking about the church a little too simplistically.
The church lives for the life of the world. It must stand for human rights wherever injustice takes place. This requires the church to touch and transform all dimensions of humanity, not excluding the political realm.
"Politics" seems to be a taboo word when it applies to church, but politics, at its essence, is simply the process of organizing control of a community... of course the church must be involved. Should the church not voice her opinion about abortion, social injustice, poverty, etc. because it touches on politics? Of course not.
I think you're right in that the church should not act as a "political body" - but what does that mean? I think, at its core, the church should never
act for political/personal gain, rather than from principle (i.e. Coptic Churches aligning with a particular political party in hopes of enhanced tax relief for non-profits - true story). T
he church has an obligation to stand for what is good, and true, and just.
edited December 2017
If the Church focuses on social issues and issues regarding injustice in the world, it inevitably gets involved in “politics”. It’s naive to think that the “incorruptible” does not paradoxically involve the corruptible. Otherwise, we become functional Monophysites.
The question is to what extent the Church should be involved in social reform? If it’s for the good of the people, then the Church should absolutely be involved. Sometimes that means making statements that may sound like it’s taking a side of superficial concern (like Jerusalem), but perhaps there is also an underlying social aspect (protection of Copts and human rights in Palestine).
We should not see the world as “black or white”, “politics or no politics”. Politics is intertwined with the needs of the people. The bread and clothes and prison systems that are involved in the Church’s TEMPORAL and CORRUPTIBLE services for the needy are almost always intertwined with politics. I too thought like baempi before I started getting involved in real world service for the Church.
What I’m saying: stand up for social issues
What I’m not saying: I’m guilt tripping into voting for a certain political affiliation.
As far as I see it, the Church’s statements on Jerusalem is not a political affiliation issue, but a social issue. There are more than one “correct” ways to do this. The one “incorrect” thing I’ve seen is to issue excommunications for pilgrimages.
The earthly is continually to be transformed to the heavenly, the temporal eternal... the bifurcation of what is "secular" and what is "spiritual/sacred" is nonsensical. It only leads to a host of theological problems, esp in Western theology.
The entire created world is the arena of Christianity.
Separation of church and state (government) means:
-the Church doesn't have any "votes" in governments, but a voice and opinion like any other citizen does
-the Church will not side with any political party or group
-the Church's decrees are not legal laws (ex, breaking fast won't get you sent to jail, but it is still a sin)
it also does NOT mean:
-the Church is to remain uninvolved and distant from politics
-the Church's voice is invalid
-the government sways the Church or vice versa
-you must choose between the government or the Church
Relating to Jerusalem:
We can think what we want about the communion ban. But what happened (Trump saying the embassy will be in Jerusalem) is instigating. The Church does not want instigating! The Bible has a very grand theme of "don't anger people just cause." Trump went against the Church, so the Church is responding saying exactly that: Trump, what you did is wrong.
Odds are, this entire thing will not be recognized by the rest of the world and will only cause more issues, leaving more of a negative legacy for the President.
Wait, is there actually some kind of a communion ban Now?
Well, there WAS a communion ban in the past under Pope Shenouda. This law is still VERBALLY in effect, but FUNCTIONALLY is not in effect because it’s not enforced. In other words, the Pope is saying, “it’s too soon to criticize my predecessor for this, so I’m going to pretend that I’m enforcing it, but I’m really not.”
Thank you for the very thoughtful comments. I have a few observations.
You don’t agree with the Jerusalem ban, which is political too, so it’s a wrong decision, but you agree with the Pence ban which is also a political decision but you call it social. It’s a little confusing to stand on 2 sides of the “should the church be a political body” issue. So it’s ok to be political when it favors my stance, but not ok when it’s against my stance. Moving the embassy is political. The Palestinian Israeli conflict is a socio-political issue. People decry the Israeli bombs in Palestine but they don’t care when the Israeli settlements are bulldozed and they are kicked out of their homes. I don’t think either issue is fair or just but these are just observations. Has the church issued a statement against the Palestinian suicide bombers and rocket launchers? Was there a statement on the displacement of the settlers?
Clearly the decision to not meet Pence was political. That’s why it was only published in Arabic. It’s an attempt to appease the Islamic world to gain their favor, who will never grant it. It’s the Islamization of the Egyptian raised Copts causing them to manifest Stockholm Syndrome instead of neutral observation.
I think it would have been better for us to issue a statement prior to Pences visit “that the church is concerned about human rights in the Middle East and we will use this opportunity to convey our Christian concerns to the USA” in an attempt to build bridges, express concern, and avoid inflammatory decisions.
First of all, who’s doing the bulldozing? You need to get your head out of foxnews and start seeing a much bigger picture here. It is the Israeli settlers that are doing the bulldozing, and Palestinians are being displaced. Palestinians are also not getting food or electricity, leading very easily to the mobs of fundamentalists taking over Gaza. Yes the Church does not support suicide bombers, and they have made that clear. Neither does the Church accept meeting with Hamas, just as much as the Church is against the Muslim Brotherhood. But the Church meets with PLO and Fatah, which is the side that continues to fight for peaceful resistance measures, not violent measures. The fact is what used to be Palestine is being slowly chewed away into Israeli terroitory using apartheid methods against the Palestinians. So yea, Pence is just as much to be avoided as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, because they support measures to drive away Palestinians.
I wouldn’t even mind if the Pope called for boycotting visitations to Israel as a social activist would. But to excommunicate someone who did visit Israel is where I think the line was crossed into an abuse of spiritual power. That is all.
Were there statements made in the past that sounded like Stockholm syndrome. Maybe, I won’t deny there’s some level of pressure there. But fact is, there is also a problem with US policy on Israel that turns a blind eye on the Palestinians’ struggles. It’s like saying, “yea sure, black lives matter, but has anyone seen what black people do in terms of crimes against white people and each other?” That’s a false equivalency, and to skew the issue on one side is a political ploy that completely ignores proper social reform for political gain.
What moving the embassy means is pretty much the next step in driving out all Palestinians from their lands and fulfilling Zionist political motives regardless to human dignity of non-Zionists. If Fatah made a statement calling suicide bombers “martyrs”, that too would be a lamentable move that should equally lead the Church to refuse to meet Fatah members. Thankfully, Fatah is not stupid to do such a thing as they continually condemned suicide bombers and violence. If they continue that way, then the ball is on Israeli side, which have proven time and again to be the aggressors in the situation.
Why did you suddenly turn this into Palestine vs Israel discussion. If you read the above posts the point of each statement i made was as to whether the church should engage in politics or not and the example at hand is indicated above. Should the church pick one side or the other when both clearly are at fault. You indicated above it’s ok to play both sides of the coin if convenient. Instead of continuing the polite discussion you are trying to turn it into which side is right and wrong which was not the discussion and put me down. Forgive me if i have upset you. You may have the final word. God bless you Mina.
edited December 2017
and I posed the question are both sides equally at fault. You seem to think so and I don’t think so. Hence why I introduced the details of the actual situation. But you misrepresented me in thinking that I believe the Church can have her cake and eat it. So since you like to resort to misrepresentations, then this discussion becomes pointless because it simply shows a person who is interpreting an issue based on his own personal beliefs and then faulting the Church for disagreeing with his own beliefs.
Life isn’t black and white my dear brother. Church history showed that church leaders were always quite polically vocal for the sake of the poor of their people. Eventually history will judge whether some actions made were right or wrong and we can leave it at that.
Dear Mina, I know I said i would give you the final word but to say I faulted the church is a misrepresentation. What i said is that I don’t think the we should be behaving in a political manner and choosing sides.
It is in fact you who faulted the church accusing her of abusing her power, not I.
As you said history will determine what’s right
For example, when patriarch Benjamin tried to make a political move, he favored Mohammed in order to rid Egypt of the Romans. How did that turn out? Since the 7th century because of this political decision Egypt went from 80-90% Christian to 80-90% Muslim.
I do believe that’s why when the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus and say to Him, should we pay tribute? And He told them to look at the coin and give to Caesar what is Caesars. That was their attempt to involve Christ in a political dispute but He refused. And the gospel says “and they marveled” at His words. I think Christ is the ultimate example.
You said, the fathers were involved in politics.
Could you name a few examples. Specific ones? And how the church benefitted? It typically led to division when we became political.
edited December 2017
For example, when patriarch Benjamin tried to make a political move, he favored Mohammed in order to rid Egypt of the Romans. How did that turn out? Since the 7th century because of this political decision Egypt went from 80-90% Christian to 80-90% Muslim."
The idea that copts welcomed or helped Amr Ebn El-'as in the Arab conquest is a myth that many muslims like to repeat a lot. The Copts during the arab conquest were neutral towards both sides.
edited December 2017
+1...I don't know why people continue to see Pope Benjamin as some sort of inviter of Arabs. Egypt was already in turmoil as it is. Pope Benjamin's own brother was tortured and killed by Chalcedonian soldiers, then Persians came, then Muslims came. I'm sure he saw the Muslims as no different than anyone else, heterodox invaders who need our prayers for repentance and conversion.
Here's an example of what I mean by the Church fathers being involved in politics:
Following up on that, you pointed out in your op-ed piece that even after the legalization of Christianity, when Christians enjoyed a position of privilege, the most significant theologians of the Church were also those who consistently championed political causes that no ancient government could or would accept. Please give us some examples and kind of wrap that up with how we should think about our political activity and thinking.
Sure. So St. Ambrose, bishop in northern Italy in the fourth century, censored judges who issued the death penalty. St. Basil, a contemporary of his, excommunicated soldiers who had killed in battle. St. John Chrysostom, who lived a generation later, demanded that the political establishment redistribute its wealth on behalf of impoverished laborers and refugees who had no legal standing.
As I said, the Church fathers were social reformers, desiring to push politics for the good of the people, not for personal gain. It can be argued Pope Tawadros is criticizing the US for turning a blind eye against the injustices made against the Palestinians by the Israeli government. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem only confirms such injustices, and so I do not see your point in criticizing the Pope for not seeing Pence. The Pope can argue he is not doing this for personal political gain. This is not a matter of rendering to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. The Pope did not say "don't pay your taxes" or "start a revolution against the US". The Pope might be making a social statement in the arena of politics, not NECESSARILY a political partisanship.
You seem to repeatedly think the Israeli/Palestinian issue is a mere superficial partisanship, and not a serious problem of human injustices.
I think that's the central problem of your complaint.
i love this line by mina soliman:
"You need to get your head out of foxnews and start seeing a much bigger picture here"