Metropolitan Hilarion Accuses West of Leaving Egypt Christians in the Lurch

The Episcopal Assembly could be in the forefront of this.

Moscow, November 1, Interfax – Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations has accused the West of failing to stand up for Egyptian Christians during recent violence against them and has slammed Western governments for putting economic interests before human life.

“Despite the unprecedented escalation of violence against Christians in Egypt early in October, not a single Western country has put any pressure on the provisional military authorities of that country or threatened economic sanctions,” a statement from the Synodal Department for External Church Relations quoted Metropolitan Hilarion as saying during a ceremony at the university of Lugano, Switzerland, in which he had the degree of doctor honoris causa conferred on him.

Footage showing armored personnel carriers “crushing a peaceful Coptic demonstration and shooting at unarmed people remain outside the attention of politicians” though they shocked the entire world, he said. The Copts are a Christian ethnic group in Egypt.

“Neither has an appropriate assessment been made of the speech of the Egyptian minister of security, who denied that weapons had been used against demonstrating Copts, or of reports about falsifying the death toll and the character of injuries. It is the right of the churches to ask the governments of their countries how long this would go on. Why are economic interests more valuable for those countries than the lives of completely innocent people who get killed just because they believe in Christ?” he said.

He called for Christians to come together “to defend their brothers and sisters who are suffering in various regions.”

“If this doesn’t happen, we will look even less convincing in the eyes of this world. On the other hand, by defending our fellow believers, we will strengthen our positions, will become more unified, and hence closer to one another,” he said.

Attacking the secularization of the West, he said Christians face “an imperative and seemingly unfeasible task to lead modern so-called post-Christian civilization out of its crisis.”

“Christian Churches, primarily the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, and also the ancient Eastern Churches, should come together today and join forces. We have the imperative need to create a community of Churches following the apostolic tradition where we would together discuss problems and challenges of the modern world,” the metropolitan said.

He also suggested setting up “joint informal information structures that would provide objective, fresh and verified information on events that are of determining significance for the future of the Church and the world.”


  1. Yes, the Assembly could certainly do something…

    My respect for Metropolitan Hilarion grows each day, and I would hope that the Orthodox in this country (not just the bishops, of course) can stand with him and many others already to speak up for the Copts and other Christians facing persecution and pressure in the Middle East. I’m certain they would stand up for us if we needed it.

  2. Metropolitan Hilarion is correct in stating that Christians in the West need to support Copts and other Christians who are being persecuted in Egypt. The new military government in Egypt has proven to be worse than President Mubarak was with respect to persecuting the country’s Christians.

    It’s time for the United Nations, the United States, and other nations to take action against the Egyptian government. I suggest that they begin now, by imposing sanctions against Egypt.

  3. Can someone tell me what pressure the Russia government has put on the provisional military authorities of Egypt? What economic sanctions has the Russian government threatened to enact? Perhaps the West should follow Russia’s lead.

    • In 2009 Russia expected trade with Egypt to reach $4 billion. In that same year, approximately 2 million Russian tourists visited Egypt.*

      The Met’s statement would carry a lot more weight if we knew that the Russian government was doing something substantial to help Egyptian Christians. If they are not, then the Met’s statement would carry a lot more weight if he included the Russian government in his accusations.

      * Source: RIANOVOSTI

  4. It is certainly important that the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, etc. should be taking strong steps to protect the Christians in Egypt, but the leadership of the Orthodox Church should be front and center, in a very public way, standing up in solidarity for the Copts. It would be great, if not already done, for the Orthodox leadership in as many countries as possible to sign a letter condemning the Egyptian Military and Islamic Supremicsts. I would love to see pan-orthodox services to be held on an ongoing basis praying for the persecuted Christians in Egypt, Pakistan, Kosovo, Kenya, Sudan, Indonesia, etc. etc. etc.

  5. I especially like your last comment, Maxim. I’ll speak with some OCF people; I would be willing to guess that they could organize a “national” (US and Canada, actually) prayer hour/day/&c. for the persecuted Christians in the world. I’ll try to work on that tonight.

    One of the things I have loved about the Coptic Orthodox is their almost instinctive calls for fasting amidst their deadliest troubles. I don’t know how we look at that, but I have great respect for those that abide by the fast in such circumstances–especially living in a culture of “comfort foods”. Right now, we might not be able to push the U.S. government to much, but we know that Christ hears us, and we should seek and ask for His will to be accomplished as always in these persecutions.

  6. Many years! Moscow is well served.

    Btw, for those in Chicago, I just caught that Moody Institute is having something this Saturday on the situation of the Copts.

  7. Since Russia seems to be silent on this issue, this all tends to reek of normal Byzantine anti-western bigotry. That does not mean that I do not agree that we in the west should not strongly protest the persecutions of Christians wherever such persecutions happen; but making this a western vs eastern question does not really help. ALL Christians, east as well as west, should be appalled at what is happening in Egypt and the Middle East. Geography should not be an issue.

  8. Actually, the real Byzantines were less anti-west than some modern Orthodox. The Byzantines had more reasons to be anti-west starting around the 1000’s Wealthy Byzantines tended to be less anti-west since they traded with the west and the Byzantine Empire helped Venice become a commercial power by exempting the Venetians from taxes, giving Venice an advantaged. A lot of Orthodox that came to the US and enjoyed the higher standard of living here compared to Greece or Eastern Europe or the Middle East tend to complain a lot about the West while enjoying the benefits of the West. In Byzantine times until around 1204 or so, Byzantium particularly if you were wealthy had the advantages over the West. Being apart of the once old Roman Empire gave it advantage in terms of commerce, law and so forth compared to the early medieval Germanic countries or governments and compared to Italy in the early medieval period before the rise of commercial powers like Venice and Genoa. Actually, Constantinople before the mid-7th Century was more comparable to the US than Greece or Russia today since it was one of the major Commercial or Military powers next to Persia before the rise of the Arabs.

    • I really think that we need to look at the “Massacre of the Latins” across the Byzantine empire in 1182. Not only did the Greeks murder in cold blood about 50,000+ men, women, and children but they also murdered the elderly and saintly Latin rite bishop, John, in Constantinople, and tied his decapitated head to the tail of a dog whilst jeering Greeks chased the poor animal through the streets of the city. This is all appalling enough, but the Byzantines also broke into the Latin churches across their Empire desecrating the reserved Body and Blood of our Saviour. But I will agree with you concerning the Byzantines in the West, especially wealthy Greeks, who complain and complain and never stop speaking about how wonderful it is in the Old Country and how horrible everything is in the west…but they never seem to leave us in peace! I should mention that I use the term Byzantine for all Byzantine Orthodoxy, in the same manner that one would use Roman, Coptic, or Anglican.

  9. cynthia curran :

    Actually, Dale I heard of that as well from a book by Robert Browning not certain if the numbers were that high. But yes, it can happen from both sides. Usually, among the Orthodox it is what happen during the 4th Crusade and the Latin Kingdom. Not saying that western Europeans should have sacked and looted Constantinople and killed people as well. But there is somewhat bad blood but during the medieval period it wasn’t always as bad as those episodes and in some parts of western Europe and eastern Europe there wasn’t bad blood as was later.

  10. cynthia curran :

    Interesting passage on the massacre of the Latins in Wikipedia it seems to be one of the factors leading to a lot of violence between Roman Catholics and Orthodox during that part of the middle ages. There were around 1182 about 60,000 Latins in Constantinople a lot of them merchants and families. The Byzantines might have not given Italian city states so much tax exemptions and made it harder for the native merchant as much but still doesn’t explain the violence.

  11. cynthia curran :

    Personality, I don’t think Hilarion is anti-western. He just wants the west which has muscle and money to pushed Egypt in a direction where Copts are not persecuted.

    • You may well be correct, but then he should have been more careful about his word choices and making this sound like a geographical issue. Also, I readily admit that I am simply tired out about hearing nothing but an anti-western rant from so many Byzantines. it is tiresome. I personally think, and may indeed be wrong, that God is far beyond caring about geographical locations! I am also rather proud of being a westerner.

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