Saturday, February 18, 2012

Egypt: Leadership Change in Coptic-Catholic Church -- Patriarch Naguib is Seriously Ill

Patriarch Naguib with Pope Benedict
(Cairo)  The Synod of the Coptic-Catholic Church of Egypt elected a representative in the past few days with complete authority to decide for Coptic Catholics. The decision became necessary as a result of the serious illness suffered by the Superior of the Egyptian Church, Antonios Cardinal Naguib, the Patriarch of Alexandria.  The Catholic-Coptic Church in union with Rome belongs to the most important eastern Church and stands particularly in the lamplight owing to how it stood throughout the Islamicization in Egypt.  Patriarch Naguib was ever a decisive voice for the Christians on the Nile,  till recently just before the outbreak of the "Arab Revolution", which he then greeted, but because of the advances of radical and extremist Islamist groups began to observe with increasing skepticism.

The Coptic-Catholic Church Bishops decided, to appoint a vicar in the place of the Patriarch, who is to support him in his work. This is so that the Church leadership can be maintained, despite the illness of the Cardinal. As a representative, the Bishop Kyrillos Kamal William Samaan, Bishop of Assiut was appointed. The 65 year old Church leader belongs to the Franciscan Order.

Bishop Samaan is to undertake the leadership complete breadth of the Church leadership for the Coptic-Catholic Church in accordance with canon law, if not also the title. Canon 132 of Canon Law for the East hand over to the Vicar complete rights and duties, even if it doesn't confer the title of a Patriarch.

The serious illness of Patriarch Naguib represents for Egypt's Christians a serious blow. The Coptic Catholics are in comparison to the numerous and much larger Coptic Orthodox, only a tiny community, about 0.25 percent [About 163,630 according to Wiki] of the Egyptian population. On the international level they are in any case an important voice for all of Egypt's Coptic Egyptians. Through the universality of the Catholic Church, they can also provide for the almost 10 million Orthodox Coptic members.

The Copts of Egypt, who are the actual descendants of the antique Egyptians and had lived in Egypt centuries before when Christians had made it bloom, are experiencing in recent times yet again a strong anti-Christian persecution by today's dominant Islam.

In his first address Bishop Samaan called upon the Copts, to pray for a speedy recovery of Cardinal Naguib and continue on the path prepared by the Patriarch to seek "dialog for our beloved Egypt". "We are ready to dialog", said the new Vicar of the Patriarch in the direction of the other religious and political powers of Egypt.

Bishop Samaan was born in Shanaynah in the vicinity of Assiut. He studied in the beginning of the 80s at a Papal University in Rome. In 1990 he was consecrated Bishop, and took an active part in the Christian-Islamic dialog. Since November 011 he belonged to the Council of Eastern Churches.

Patriarch Naguib can not, because of his stricken health, take part in the Consistorium, that Pope Benedict XVI. had called for this weekend. The Egyptian Cardinal is valued as a highly esteemed member of the "Senate of the Church", whose voice has especial weight on matters of the Oriental Christians. The 77 year old Cardinal was elected as the Patriarch of Alexandria in a 2010 Synod of Coptic Bishops. In October 2010 he was the General Commentator on the Synod for the Near East. Shortly after, Pope Benedict XVI raised him to the rank of Cardinal on the 20th of November 2010, where he is at present the only representative in Rome of Oriental uniate Churches.

Link to katholisches...

The Patriarchate's Website in Arabic

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