October 31, 2014

OCA Holy Synod of Bishops Expresses Solidarity with Coptic Church in Egypt

Source: Orthodox Church in America

The witness and mission of the Coptic Church in Egypt have their origin in apostolic times. Today, the Coptic Church of Egypt is the largest Christian Church in the Middle East. Under the leadership of His Holiness, Pope Shenouda, the Coptic Church is a dynamic and active Church, with significant and effective work in education, youth work, and social work.

While the Coptic Church has experienced limitations to its work in the context of the Muslim majority of Egypt, the present time presents special challenges. In the midst of the changes in Egyptian political life during the last months, some of which are positive, there are aspects of current developments which make the Coptic Church vulnerable to discrimination and even violence.

For this reason, the Lesser Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, has issued a Statement of Support for the Coptic Church of Egypt. This statement will be sent to the Embassy of Egypt in Washington, DC, to the Egyptian Mission to the United Nations, and to government authorities in Egypt. In addition, the statement will be shared with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The text of the statement reads as follows.

Statement of Support for the Coptic Church in Egypt

The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America expresses its solidarity with the Coptic Church in Egypt at this time of significant transition in Egyptian society. This time of transition is a time of hope as well as a time of anxiety. The people of Egypt and Egypt’s religious communities hope for a future of justice and peace. For justice and peace to prevail, all Egyptians must enjoy equality before the law.

The Coptic Church has faced unjust limitations and discriminatory practices. This means that the Coptic citizens of Egypt have been denied justice. One of the examples of this denial of justice is seen in the denial of approval for the building of churches. In such discriminatory practices administrative decisions based on existing regulations play the key role.

There also have been periodic occurrences of violence against Coptic Christians – violence killing and wounding many Copts. In this violence the key role has been played by religious extremism found in some groups of the Muslim majority in Egypt.

The building and maintenance of Justice and peace in Egyptian society will be at great risk if Egyptians and the religious communities to which they belong are not equally protected under the law.

In this regard work on the constitution of Egypt is critically important for the future of the country, and indeed for the future of the Middle East. Equality of Egyptian Christians under the law does not undermine the religious faith of Muslims. Rather, equality under the law protects all citizens and opens the road to peace, justice, and mutual respect between Muslims and Christians.

The Orthodox Church in America will remain in solidarity with the yearning of Egyptians for peace and justice and will continue to offer prayerful support and solidarity to the Coptic Church.

Comments

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    I hope that the Orthodox Church in America’s Statement of Support for the Coptic Church in Egypt has a significant impact in convincing the Egyptian government to ensure that the Coptic Church enjoys the harmony, justice, and peace to which it is entitled.

    Indeed, the Egyptian government needs to end its violence and prejudice against the Coptic Church, and provide it with the same kind of freedom, rights, and protection that it provides for its Islamic mosques.

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    Geo Michalopulos says:

    Bravo to the Holy Synod of the OCA for putting this out. This is a significant step in their rehabilitation given the recent unpleasantness. It would be wonderful if the Episcopal Assembly would likewise issue a statement.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Hi George,

    Kali Chronia!

    Ditto on your BRAVO!

    And I’ll be more blunt: Where the hell is the Episcopal Assembly on this? If you want to BE an American Church…how about you start ACTING like an American Church. Respect is earned, not bequeathed because of an episcopal kalimafi.

    Kyrie Eleison!

    Dean

    PS my congratulations to the Holy Synod on a very nice piece of work…this was extraordinarily well done!

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    Dean Calvert says:

    I was thinking about this a little more last night.

    In stark contrast to the bold statement of the OCA Holy Synod, the silence of the Episcopal Assembly is deafening – which makes little sense if you consider the Episcopal Assembly a precursor of a united American Church.

    On the other hand, it makes PERFECT sense if you consider the GOA, the leaders of the EA, as nothing more than an overseas embassy of the Greek government.

    Consider this, for example, from Wikipedia:

    “Currently Greece has the largest merchant navy in the world as a percentage of the world’s total dwt, at 15.96% according to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 2010 report.[82] Although a drop from the capacity of 18.2% of the world’s total that the country’s merchant fleet controlled in 2006,[83] the Greek Merchant Navy is still the largest,[82] but followed closely by that of Japan, at 15.73%.[82]

    The Greek merchant navy’s total dwt is 186 million.[82] Japan is second with 183 million,[82] but China, which is ranked third, stands at 104 million.[82] This comes to show that, although the Japanese merchant navy appears to be challenging the supremacy of the Greek one in terms of dwt, the Greek merchant navy’s total dwt is not comparable to any other nation other than Japan.[82] Additionally, Greece represents 41.49% of all of the European Union’s dwt.[84] However, today’s fleet roster is smaller than an all-time high of 5,000 ships in the late 1970s.[79]

    Greece is also ranked in the top 5 country merchant fleets by number of ships. In the same 2010 United Nations report, the Greek merchant navy came fourth with 3,150 ships,[82] after Japan, China and Germany.[82] There is a significant gap between Greece and Russia, which came fifth with 1,987 ships.[82] A European Community Shipowners’ Association report for 2010-2011 reveals that the Greek flag is the fifth-most-used internationally for shipping, while it ranks first in the EU.[84]

    In terms of ship categories, Greece controls 22.5% of the world’s tankers[84] and 16.8% of the world’s bulk carriers (in dwt).[84] An additional equivalent of 20.05% of the world’s tanker dwt is on order,[84] with another 12.1% of bulk carriers also on order.[84] Today, shipping is one of the country’s most important industries. It accounts for 6% of GDP,[84] employs about 160,000 people (4% of the workforce),[85] and represents 1/3 of the country’s trade deficit.[85] Earnings from shipping amounted to €15.4 billion in 2010,[84] while between 2000 and 2010 Greek shipping contributed a total of €140 billion[84] (half of the country’s public debt in 2009 and 3.5 times the receipts from the European Union in the period 2000-2013).[84] The same ECSA report showed that there are approximately 750 Greek shipping companies in operation.[84]“

    So, in other words, with one fifth of the world’s oil tankers in Greek hands, there is no way the Greek government is going to find itself at odds with the Muslim world.

    And because it is not in the interests of the Old Country, the American Church will be muzzled, and we will sit on our hands and watch the Copts sacrificed.

    Just super…that’s the kind of Church I want to belong to…lapdogs of the Old World!

    There are good reasons why the Church Fathers insisted on local churches controlled by locally elected bishops, instead of globe straddling patriarchates.

    Best Regards
    Dean

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    Andrew says:

    Dean, you are correct about the EA. We really do not know much about the EA do we? We do not know how its funded or how it works but we do know that the money will not last forever and the EA will just be be the equivalent of an annual trade show for celibate men and overpaid clergy in Byzantine Vestments who make the sign of the cross the correct way and take turns congratulating themselves on mythical accomplishments.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Andrew,

    One of these days, one of those geniuses in one of the Old World patriarchates (maybe our looney friend, the metropolitan of Bursa) is going to wake up to the fact that it might actually be USEFUL TO THEM to have a united American Church.

    Let’s see…for example, with the Greek economy going down in flames (meaning the sugar daddy of the EP is now broke), and Russia becoming Turkey’s largest trading partner, do you think it might be in the interest of the EP to have a supportive (even if autocephalous) American church? If for no other reason than as a counterweight to Russian hegemony? Or for the Greek govt to be able to say, “Hey…we have no control over them” so the Greek communities of Alexandria would not be targeted by radical Muslims following a statement by the American Church? Or for an American Church to put pressure on Washington to protect the Patriarchate in Syria so they do not have to fear regime change?

    The real problem is the lack of imagination in ALL of these Old World patriarchates. Fear is driving them instead.

    Best Regards,
    Dean

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    Andrew says:

    Dean, you raise an interesting point. I have often thought that if Greece continues its economic implosion and the GOA continues its deterioration in the USA then it could very well be that Russia will quite literally bail out the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Its the only country that has the will and the resources to do so. In this scenario the EP will cease being a 100% Greek institution and become more ummmm…. multicultural with the addition of bishops from foreign lands. If such a scenario plays out then you have the possibility of there being non-Greek Ecumenical Patriarchs ruling the Church of Constantinople. Much like in Rome where we saw a Polish Pope change the papacy for the better we could see a non-Greek ascend to the chair of St. Andrew and change Orthodoxy for the better.

    Why worry about diptychs and the order of Churches when given current events in a few years time one could literally assume responsibility for these ancient sees and implement a program of renewal whil resolving long standing disputes and questions.

    Economics really is the unknown variable for the Orthodox world.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Andrew,

    To be honest, i think you just outlined the strategy of the Moscow Patriarchate: sit and wait.

    I wondered why they would acquiesce to all of this Pan Orthodox/Episcopal Assembly/Great Council mumbo jumbo. I think you just explained it.

    From their point of view, they will own it in a few years anyway…so why argue about it. Let the Phanariots play their byzantine games to their hearts content. It won’t change a thing.

    The Russians are playing chess to the Greeks’ checkers.

    Best Regards,
    dean

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    Andrew says:

    Dean, I have also been talking with someone about the same set of circumstances in the GOA. Demographics are destiny and the present under 45 generaton in the GOA is more ethnically diverse and less committed financially and spiritually to the model of the Church that is being run out of 79th Street. The 79th Street fantasy does not have alot of time left and it cannot also not hold up under any realistic scruntiny. Outside of a few big cities the “Greek” in Greek Orthodox is slowly becoming like the “Roman” in Roman Catholic. Nobody thinks the Roman Catholic Church is just for Romans and more and more this will be true of the “Greek” in Greek Orthodox.

    I see this in my local GOA parish where there are two distinct demongraphics. One demographic lives for festival, greek dancing and the diocesan basketball tournament where Greek boys and can hook up with Greek girls and keep the omogenia going as their parents play “Greek” matchmaker. This demongraphic has no real commitment to the life of the Church outside of these activites. The second demographic is under age 45, ethnically diverse and focuses their attention on the spiritual and liturgical life of the Church. This demographic brings their families to Church while the first demographics children come infrequently if at all.

    Demographics are destiny and if you look through all the 79th Street fantasy propaganda you will see that the GOA is changing one person and one family at a time.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Something interesting I came across, a hardcore british socialists describes the revolution in Egypt as very anti-US supremists and anti-Eu. Granted, I have some criticism of the Eu myself. Its typical of the US and the west to shoot themselves in the foot. The US and Western Europe and some other countries fortunate to be above the income levels of Greece attract a lot of envy Not only is the situation possibly worst for the Copts but definately will work against US Interest but allowing a very anti-US regime to come to power when it could have been avoided with the old SOB that was in power. Forgive my langauge.

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    cynthia curran says:

    What is interesting is that Turkey attracts people in the US like Grover Norquist since Turkey is fast growing, doesn’t have much of a welfare state. Muslems are required to care for their own to a certain degree hence private charity. In fact, Islam can attract those on the right like Grover Norquist since Islam doesn’t really state economic system as much as communistism. The old Jewish forbid interest but Moslems have for centuries been able to get around that.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Norquist thought that those from countries like Turkey and so forth are businessmen and are more likely than hispanic workers to support the Republican Party so he made a lot of effort to bring them in. Norquist still also liked the hispanic cheap labor though.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Another tidbit the Ottomans in their early years rebuilt parts of the Valens Aquaduct into the Belgrade forest, somthing the Byzantines didn’t attempt. Granted, most Orthodox can’t stand the Ottomans for good reasons but the early Ottoman Empire was able to built things that were not attempted since prior to the Justinian Plague large scale instructure development like Aqaducts and Cisterns.

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