Recent violence in Egypt resulting in the deaths of Coptic Christians has caused suffering and anxiety in the Coptic community in the United States.
On behalf of the Orthodox Church in America, Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, spoke with leaders of the Coptic Church in America, expressing the concern and solidarity of the Orthodox Church in America. He conveyed to the Coptic leaders a message of sympathy from His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, and the Holy Synod of the OCA.
One of the Coptic leaders, His Grace, Bishop Serapion, was on the way to the airport to travel to Cairo when he spoke with Father Leonid. Bishop Serapion expressed his appreciation for the love and solidarity of the Orthodox Church in America, and promised to share his impressions of the situation upon his return from Egypt.
Dramatic events in Egypt during the year 2011 have seen the end of the rule of President Mubarak as a result of demonstrations and popular pressure. At the same time, there has been the danger of the emergence of extremist movements. In Egypt, 10% of the population is Coptic Christian, led by Pope Shenouda. In the majority Muslim population, the possible emergence of extremist political or religious groups would put the minority Christian population at risk. The largest community of Christians in the Middle East is the Coptic Church of Egypt. In Egypt, there are also small Catholic and Protestant communities, as well as the historic Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.
Most recently, military and security forces dealt with demonstrators for democracy violently, resulting in the deaths of some twenty-five Coptic Christians. This violence has been deeply wounding to the Coptic community, and indeed to the whole of Egyptian society. Egyptians who are Muslim by faith have come forward with expressions of solidarity with the Coptic Church and the Christian minority.
It is the request of Metropolitan Jonah that the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America offer fervent prayers for the Coptic Church and for all Christian churches in Egypt and the Middle East.