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3 July 2019 - The Egyptian Ministry for Antiquities has edited the publication, in English and Arabic, of a booklet illustrated on the "Way of the Holy Family, the itinerary that unites the places crossed according to millenary traditions by Mary, Joseph and Jesus Child when they found refuge in Egypt to escape from the violence of Herod. The dossier, entitled "Stations of the journey of the Holy Family" is part of the initiatives put in place by the Egyptian authorities in order to add the "Way" of the Holy Family in the list of sites recognized as "World Heritage" by UNESCO.

The file contains documentation and photos of the various places that are part of the itinerary, such as the monasteries of Wadi Natrun, the so-called "Maria's Tree" in el Matariya (suburb of Cairo), the church of the Virgin Mary in Jabal al-Tayr (province of Minya) and the monastery of Deir al Muharraq, in the governorate of Assiut, where the Holy Family, according to local traditions, settled for more than six months in a cave later incorporated in the ancient church of the Virgin. Khaled al Anani, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, underlined in recent public speeches the historical and ecclesial relevance of the Holy Family's stay in Egyptian territory, re-launching the historical hypotheses that the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph remained in Egypt for several years, and returned to Palestine after the death of Herod. There are at least 25 places that claim to have been touched by the Holy Family during their flight to Egypt.

For some time now, as documented by Agenzia Fides, the Egyptian authorities are committed to promoting the "Way of the Holy Family" in Egypt, also in terms of tourism. On 4 October 2017 Pope Francis, during the general audience, greeted a large Egyptian delegation that had come to Rome to promote pilgrimages along the "Way of the Holy Family". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 2/7/2019)

Published in News

11 May 2018 - The Coptic Church celebrates the centenary of "Sunday schools", at the origin of the Coptic spiritual awakening. The celebrations by the Coptic Orthodox Church to commemorate the centenary of the birth of the so-called Sunday School Movement will take place on Sunday, May 13. The centenary will be celebrated in the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of Cairo, in the presence of Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II. Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak was also invited to the official commemoration.

It was the year 1918 when Copt Archdeacon Habib Girgis started the "Sunday schools" network, taking inspiration from the Protestant formula of "Sunday Schools".

The initiative, designed to promote the spiritual and theological formation of the laity, had a formidable impact, along with the rebirth of Coptic monasticism, as a tool and occasion for the "Coptic awakening" of last century. "Sunday schools" fostered and nourished the renewal of the entire pastoral care of the Coptic Church, contributing to the formation of new generations of monks and priests who, starting from the period between the two world wars, participated in a firmly rooted "rebirth" in the rediscovery of one's theological and spiritual traditions.

The "Sunday schools" movement has helped to shape the theological and pastoral sensitivity of relevant figures in the history of the Coptic Church of last century, such as Patriarch Shenuda III.

Archdeacon Habib Girgis (1876-1951) was recognized and proclaimed a saint by the Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church on 20 June 2013. "In the Coptic Orthodox Church - reports to Agenzia Fides Antonios Gabriel, priest of the Coptic Orthodox community present in Rome - the holiness of a person can be proclaimed only after forty years since the death of the canonized". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 11/5/2018)

Published in News
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 20:41

EGYPT “Dear people of Egypt ...”

EGYPT “Dear people of Egypt ...”

25th April 2017 - Pope Francis in a video message: Dear people of Egypt ...

To mark his upcoming visit to the country (28-29 April), Pope Francis today sent a video message to the Egyptian people. "Our world, torn by blind violence, which has also afflicted the heart of your dear land – needs peace, love and mercy; it needs workers for peace."

Here is the text of the video message that Pope Francis sent today to the Egyptian people a few days ahead of his visit to the country (28-29 April).

Dear people of Egypt! Al Salamò Alaikum! Peace be with you! With a joyful and grateful heart I will come in a few days’ time to visit your dear homeland: cradle of civilization, gift of the Nile, land of sun and hospitality, where Patriarchs and Prophets lived and where God, Clement and Merciful, the One and Almighty, made His voice heard. I am truly happy to come as a friend, as a messenger of peace and as a pilgrim to the Country that gave, more than two thousand years ago, refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family fleeing from the threats of King Herod (cfr. Mt 2:1-26). I am honoured to visit the land visited by the Holy Family! I greet you cordially and thank you for having invited me to visit Egypt, which you call “Umm il Dugna” / Mother of the Universe! I warmly thank Mr. President of the Republic, His Holiness the Patriarch Tawadros II, the Great Imam of Al-Azhar and the Coptic Catholic Patriarch who have invited me; and I thank each one of you, who make space for me in your hearts.

I also thank all those people who have worked, and are working, to make this trip possible. I hope that this visit will be an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East; a message of friendship and esteem to all inhabitants of Egypt and the region; a message of fraternity and reconciliation to all children of Abraham, particularly in the Islamic world, in which Egypt occupies a primary position. I hope that it may also offer a valid contribution to interreligious dialogue with the Islamic world, and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerated and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church.

Our world, torn by blind violence, which has also afflicted the heart of your dear land – needs peace, love and mercy; it needs workers for peace, free and liberating people, courageous people able to learn from the past to build a future without closing themselves up in prejudices; it needs builders of bridges of peace, dialogue, brotherhood, justice, and humanity. Dear Egyptian brothers, young and elderly, women and men, Muslims and Christians, rich and poor … I embrace you warmly and ask God Almighty to bless you and protect your country from every evil. Please, pray for me! Shukran wa Tahiaì Misr! / Thank you, and long live Egypt!

Città del Vaticano (AsiaNews)

Published in News
Sunday, 09 April 2017 20:18

EGYPT Why bloody Palm Sunday

10h  Aprile 2017 In the aftermath of bloody Palm Sunday in Egypt, several comments are being modeled on fashionable clichés: there is an open conflict of civilizations, an ongoing religious war between Muslims and Christians.

These interpretations may have some truth. Not a day goes by without news of some Islamic communities resistance – even by means of force - to the modernization brought by the Western world from how people dress, or use their time, to ways of educating. And not a day goes by - and this has been the case for years in Egypt – without Christians being killed at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who dismiss these faithful as "unbelievers" and therefore only worthy to be either converted or eliminated. Throwing gasoline on the fire, Daesh (the Islamic State) has long decreed the eradication of Christians from the Middle East because of their "polluting" power on Arab culture.

But it is a giant step, and a wrong one, to go from here to urgently demanding a new crusade. First, because there are often also Muslim victims in the attacks against Christians. And many of the people who rushed to donate blood yesterday to save the lives of the wounded in the two attacks on the churches of Tanta and Alexandria were also Muslims. Above all, it fails to take into account that Daesh is not just targeting Christians, but their successful coexistence with Muslims. Former General al-Sisi has been pressing for an Egyptian society where Christians and Muslims have the same rights and duties; where the procedures to build churches and mosques are the same; where there are the same career opportunities in society and in the army for the faithful of the two religions. Al-Sisi’s success in this field would be a revolution in the Arab world, given the importance of Egypt, from the numerical and cultural point of view.

Al-Sisi’s influence is such that even the Al Azhar University, often divided between modernity and dependence on Saudi funding, is moving to condemn the literalist interpretation of the Koran, at the root of Daesh and Saudi Wahhabism.

The cliché we have mentioned, if they have any truth at all, take no account of the many positive movements in the Islamic and Middle Eastern world. But above all they conceal one fact: the responsibility of the Western world. Condemning Daesh, condemning fundamentalist Islam is not the whole truth. Yesterday at the Angelus Pope Francis, on receiving the news of the attack on the church of Tanta, expressed his "deepest condolences" to his "dear brother, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic Church and to all the dear Egyptian nation" and added "the Lord turn the hearts of the people who are sowing terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who do and are trafficking weapons."

If we do not want to manipulate the pope's words, then we must remember that the Western world is trying to rehabilitate its creaking economy through arms sales to those very countries that in one way or another are responsible for the massacre of Christians.

According to data of the 2016 SIPRI report (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), to date the largest arms exporters are the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany. They represent 74% of the total volume of exports in the world. At least half of their armaments were destined for the Middle East. In 2015, Saudi Arabia saw an increase of 275% on imports of weapons compared to 2006-2010; Qatar, an increase of 279%. Both of these two countries - along with others - are known for their support for the "rebellion" against Assad as well as al Qaeda and Daesh.

Therefore the West is also responsible for the killings of Christians and its scandal at all that Daesh does is somewhat farcical if it fails to support the cultural and social dialogue between Christians and Muslims and curb the arms race in the Middle Orient.

Many experts and opinionists continue to quote Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address, when the Pope suggested to the Islamic world to contend with reason and violence. But they forget that most of that speech was addressed to the West which in despising religious reasoning, has been locked up in a materialistic model, where only numbers and money count. Even those of weapons.

Bernardo Cervellera, Asianews

Published in News
Wednesday, 15 February 2017 15:05

Silver Jubilee of the Centre of Love

Founded in 1992, the Centre of Love for children with special needs, is celebrating this year its 25th anniversary!

In partnership with St. Jeanne Antide Institution, this centre puts into practice the principles which are instilled in the students of the big school: acceptance, respect and service to the OTHER.

The celebrations took place on the 21st and 23rd January last, in the presence of the sisters of the Provincial Council and the communities of Egypt. The founders of this project, the members of the big family of Jeanne Antide, the directors of the Alexandrian centres for the handicapped and the students’ parents have honoured the feast with their presence.

The ceremony started with the unveiling of a statue symbolising the centre and was followed by a procession with white candles up to the hall. The welcoming words and the testimonials expressing gratitude preceded a well-prepared programme.

The children of the Centre played two famous patriotic operas. Songs, dancing, theatre... the talents didn’t fail to complete the ceremony! The big applause echoed in the hall because the presentation exceeded every expectation!

The following morning, the Eucharist was celebrated in the school chapel especially for the occasion. Positive echoes could be heard. In his homily which he delivered to all the religions, Father Boulad (the chief principal in the project since its beginning), tackled the issue: “The religious rituals or the acts of charity?”

Do we put into practice the values that characterise our being human? This was the golden message of the silver jubilee.

Published in Events

23rd  May 2016 - Coptic Bishop: after a meeting between Pope Francis and Grand Imam al Tayyib, the Egyptian press announces the resumption of dialogue between the Holy See and al Azhar"In Egypt great importance is given to the meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar: even the most popular newspapers dedicate large space to the event on the front page, and report that the decision to resume official dialogue between the Holy See and the largest Sunni Islam's theological institution has already been taken".

This is how Anba Kyrillos William Samaan, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assiut, describes to Agenzia Fides the attention and the expectations raised in the Egyptian society from the visit made this morning at the Vatican by Sheikh Ahmad al Tayyib, Grand Imam of al-Azhar, during which the maximum exponent of the most authoritative Sunni theological center also had an important dialogue with the Bishop of Rome. "That official dialogue" recalls Anba Kyrillos "was interrupted for five years due to the statements of Benedict XVI following the attack on the Coptic Cathedral in Alexandria: on that occasion, the Pope had recalled the responsibilities of local authorities in defense of Christians". Due to the words expressed by the Pope not only those of al-Azhar, but also members of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate had reacted badly.

Anba Kyrillos still judges positively the contribution offered in recent years by al Azhar in favor of coexistence and overcoming sectarian rifts, in the dramatic historical phase experienced by Egypt: "The Grand Imam, along with Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros, have helped to revitalize the 'House of the Egyptian family', the inter-religious liaison body created years ago by al Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch as a tool to prevent and mitigate sectarian conflicts, at a time when the upsurge of fundamentalist sectarianism seemed to put at risk the same national unity". In recent times, under the auspices of that institution, which coordinates a wide network throughout the country, about forty imams and priests animated together a "mission" in the schools of the Egyptian province in Minya to promote conferences and debates among students, the culture of encounter and peace, enhancing it as the basis of a peaceful social and religious coexistence. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 23/05/2016)

Published in News

16th March 2016  – Ismailia: 49 in favor, 4 against. The "reconciliation committee" of the Egyptian village of Ismailia, in the governorate of Minya, in the framework of the initiatives undertaken to overcome sectarian conflict, convened a meeting to discuss the possible construction of a Coptic church and of the area to eventually allocate for this purpose.

In the assembly of the committee – report local sources - the land on which a place of Christian worship will be built has been located. The members of the body, mainly Muslims, put the proposal to a vote, which received 49 votes in favor and only 4 against. The almost unanimous consent to the construction of the Coptic Church is a sign welcomed with relief by Christian communities, in an area marked in the past by several incidents of sectarian intolerance. (GV) (Agenzia Fides)

Published in News

6 July 2015 - The Coptic Orthodox Church of Saints Anthony and Paul, in the Egyptian district of Nasser (the province of Beni Suef) oversees the weekly distribution of food parcels to hundreds of poor Muslim families during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month particularly characterized by the practice of fasting combined with prayer. This is what Coptic sources consulted by Agenzia Fides said. The food parcels offered by the Coptic parish are distributed in cooperation with the local mosque, and the synergy between imams, monks and priests and lay Christians helps to strengthen the bonds of familiarity and solidarity that are an effective antidote to sectarian preaching and to the maneuvers of fundamentalist groups.
The decision to distribute basic necessities to the poorest Muslims marks a change compared to the past, when during Ramadan Christian communities organized dinners and social occasions to share with Muslims at the end of the daily fast.
"In reality - explains to Fides Anba Antonios Aziz Mina, the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Guizeh - lately those evening banquets had become very formal moments, and participation began to decline. So many Christian communities had the happy idea of using funds intended for such dinners for first aid to poor Muslims. A choice that seems very appropriate, especially in light of the economic crisis that affects a large part of the population".
(GV) (Agenzia Fides 06/07/2015)

Published in News
Monday, 15 June 2015 22:08

EGYPT Pope Francis invited by Al Sisi

15 June 2015 - The Egyptian Ambassador to the Holy See: Al Sisi has invited Pope Francis to Egypt. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has officially invited Pope Francis to make a visit to Egypt. This is what H. E. Ms. Wafaa Ashraf Moharram Bassim, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Holy See said in an interview published by Al-Ahram. In a long conversation with the best-known Egyptian newspaper, Ms. Wafaa Bassim answers several questions on the international role of Pope Francis and the positions of the Holy See with regard to the emergencies in the Middle East.

In this context, the diplomatic representative reported that the offices of the government have initiated a formal invitation with the signature of President al Sisi to ask the Pope to make an official visit to Egypt. The invitation of the President – says Ms. Wafaa Bassim - is added to that already addressed to Pope Francis by Patriarch Tawadros II, Primate of the Orthodox Coptic Church. Regarding the timing of a possible papal visit to Egypt, the diplomatic Egyptian representative says no date has been set and will surely not take place in 2015, but adds that "both parties wish the visit takes place very soon".

The news of a possible future visit of Pope Francis in Egypt is greeted with great joy even by Catholic Egyptians: "There is no official confirmation on what newspapers publish" says to Agenzia Fides Anba Antonios Aziz Mina, Bishop Coptic Catholic Guizeh "but certainly a visit of Peter's successor in Egypt, in this historic moment, would be great comfort and encouragement also for all Christians in the region".

Meanwhile Egyptian Coptic sources report that the professor of al-Azhar, Mohamed Emara, has resigned after the controversy that arose around one of his publications – released with the magazine - in which, among other things the renowned scholar called the historical event of Christianity in the Middle East "disastrous". Emara’s considerations had provoked negative reactions within the Coptic community, and the publication had been withdrawn. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 15/06/2015)

Published in News

29 April 2015 - A legal ruling has reaffirmed the right of Christian workers to start work at 10 on Sundays, in order to allow them to participate in the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy. This was reported by Coptic sources consulted by Agenzia Fides.

The law regarding reduced working hours on Sundays for Christian civil servants had already been recognized by resolution 244 of 1960. But in recent times, the managers of many companies and government offices had begun to reject the fact of allowing Christian workers, who appealed to civil justice, to start work later.

In recent days, with resolution no. 20195 of 2015, Judge Mohammed Salim reiterated that all offices and public companies - including schools – have to allow Christian employees to start work later on Sundays. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 29/04/2015)

Published in News
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