Coptic delegation in Jerusalem to discuss controversial monastery


A Coptic Orthodox Church delegation traveled to Jerusalem on Thursday morning, upon the instructions of Pope Twadros II, to meet with Bishop Antony, Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Near East, and discuss the latest developments regarding Deir al-Sultan Monastery in the Israeli-occupied city.

Last month, Israeli police dragged and pinned Coptic monks to the ground at the monastery, as they protested Israel’s refusal to let Egypt’s Coptic Church carry out restoration work.

The monks opposed Israeli-led-restoration works in favor of the Ethiopian Copts, who have disassociated from Egypt’s Church since the 1970s.

Thursday’s delegation also included Secretary of the Holy Synod Bishop Daniel, coordinator of relations with the Ethiopian Church Bishop Bejmin, Bishop Gabriel of Beni Suef, Archbishop Julius of Ancient Egypt, who is also head of the Archbishopric Services, and Kamel Michel, the General Coordinator of the Church for Deir al-Sultan case.

Pope Tawadros received the new Egyptian ambassador to Israel a few days ago, to discuss the issue of Deir al-Sultan, before the ambassador traveled to Israel.

On the other side, after her return from Sharm el-Sheikh, Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Waly visited Pope Tawadros, to offer condolences to the victims of a terrorist attack near the Anba Samuel Monastery in Minya.

Waly assured Tawadros that the Solidarity Ministry will offer all support to the families of the victims, stressing that terrorist attacks would only increase the people’s determination.

Tawadros also met with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdelaal, at the papal headquarters of the Cathedral of St. Mark in Abbassiya, to offer condolences to the victims of the terrorist incident at Minya.

Waly had cut off her visit to Sharm el-Sheikh to attend Egypt’s 2018 World Youth Forum, and returned to Cairo to visit the victims of the terrorist incident and their families.

According to Waly, the families of the deceased will receive each LE100,000 as a compensation, and a monthly pension of LE1,500.

The injured will receive LE50,000 as compensation, she added.

Deir al-Sultan is of particular importance to Coptic Christians. It is their direct path from the Monastery of St. Anthony, where the headquarters of the Egyptian Patriarchate lies, to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, according to Member of the Melli Council of the Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, Mohsen George.

George said that the Egyptian Church hosted in Deir al-Sultan Ethiopian monks for over three centuries. He claimed that Ethiopian monks have attempted over years to take advantage of any tension between Egypt and foreign authorities that supervised the monastery, including the Turkish, British and Jordanian authorities, in order to take control.

The Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid had ruled that the monastery belonged to the Coptic Orthodox Church.

During the War of Attrition, Ethiopian monks coordinated with the Israeli occupation authorities and expelled Egyptian monks from Deir al-Sultan in April 1970, after which the Egyptian Archbishop of Jerusalem filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of Israel to restore the monastery.

On March 16, 1971, the Israeli Supreme Court condemned the Israeli government after the attacks on the Coptic clergymen were proven, and returned the monastery to the Orthodox Church. Another ruling by the same court issued on January 9, 1979 ordered the handover of the monastery to the Egyptian Orthodox Church, according to George.

Last month, the Israeli occupation forces arrested a monk among the participants in a protest organized by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Old Jerusalem, as well as a number of other monks and participants, while the Patriarch of the Coptic community stood at the entrance of the monastery, in an attempt to prevent the entry of workers from entering amid the cheers of protest.

Edited article from Al-Masry Al-Youm.

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