The Coptic Church, along with other non-Chalcedonian churches, are celebrating Christmas today. Besides some Christological differences, the Copts (the Egyptian Orthodox Christians; there are Coptic Catholics, too!) follow the Julian calendar which is a number of days behind the Gregorian calendar. About 10% of the Egyptians are Christian.
Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, responded to what I
believe is unfair, even bigoted criticism of Pope Benedict by Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb of Egypt
following the January 1st bombing of a Coptic Orthodox church. 21 dead and
nearly a 100 wounded. Clear it is to me, the Muslim world rarely pays close attention to what the Catholic Church believes and what the Pope says.
Ahmed al-Tayeb, current current Imam of al-Azhar Mosque,
condemned the bombing. The imam paid a visit to the head of the Coptic Orthodox
Church, Pope Shenouda III to offer condolences. But his good will toward the
Christians however, also include a strident criticism Pope Benedict who asked civil
authorities to protect Christians. In Al-Tayeb’s mind the Pope’s request was an
“unacceptable interference in Egypt’s affairs.” Further, said al-Tayeb, “I
disagree with the Pope’s view, and I ask why did the Pope not call for the
protection of Muslims when they were subjected to killings in Iraq?”
The various news agencies are reporting that Egypt’s civil and religious leaders are condemning the New Year’s Eve suicide bombing of a Coptic Church which killed 21 people and wounded a reported 100 others. The attack happened with 30 minutes of 2011.
against God and all humanity,” Pope Benedict XVI told those gathered in St Peter’s Square for the praying of the Angelus and an address in which he described the
New Year’s eve bombing of a Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria, Egypt. There’s been a consistent campaign to terrorize and kill Christians in Arab nations. This was the latest round of Muslim attacks.
The Pope said “Yesterday morning we learned with sorrow the
news of the serious attack against the Coptic Christian community in
Alexandria, Egypt. This vile act of death, such as planting bombs close to the
homes of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave, offends God and all
humanity, who only yesterday prayed for peace and began the New Year with
The Holy Father appealed for Christians to recall the Gospel
teachings of non-violence: “Before this strategy of violence that has targeted
Christians, and has consequences for the whole population, I pray for the
victims and family members, and encourage church communities to persevere in
faith and witness to non-violence that comes from the Gospel”.
continue to contemplate the divine mystery of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem
of the Virgin Mary. He is the Word of God made flesh for our salvation, the
Wisdom of God who has come to enlighten us. Let us always cherish this presence
of Jesus who brings us grace and truth! I wish you all a pleasant Sunday and
renew my good wishes for a Happy New Year!”
… as Christians “we remain united
in Christ, our hope and our peace!”