Bishop's murder draws attention to tensions in Coptic Orthodox Church

Catholic News Agency | 4/28/2017 | Staff
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Alexandria, Egypt, Aug 20, 2018 / 02:48 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Last month's murder of Bishop Epiphanius, the abbot of St. Macarius Monastery in the Egyptian desert, has highlighted tension in the Coptic Orthodox Church over monasticism, ecumenism, and reform.

Bishop Epiphanius' body was found July 29, with injuries to his head and back that suggest that he had been hit by a sharp object.

Isaiah - Name - World - Wael - Saad

Isaiah al-Makary, whose name in the world is Wael Saad, was charged with the bishop's murder Aug. 11, and confessed to the murder the following day. Saad said another monk, Faltaous al-Makary (Raymond Rasmi Mansour), assisted in the crime. Faltaous attempted suicide in recent weeks, and was being treated at a Cairo hospital.

Saad was expelled from the monastery Aug. 5, for “inappropriate actions which violate monastic behavior and way of life.” The Coptic Orthodox Church said that his dismissal had been decided on before the bishop's death.

Bishop - Epiphanius - Murder - Coptic - Orthodox

Bishop Epiphanius' murder has led to the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate issuing several decrees on monasticism.

Tawadros II, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, announced Aug. 1 that the Church's monasteries would stop accepting new brothers for one year. Those who established monasteries unapproved by the patriarchate will be stripped of their priesthood and monastic state. No new monasteries may be founded except as a revival of old monasteries, and this is to be done under the care of a recognized monastery.

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The Church has also instructed its monks to close their social media accounts, and has suspended the ordination of monks for three years. Permissions for monks to attend outside functions is also being restricted.

And on Aug. 16, the Church announced that unrecognized monasteries have one month to submit to the supervision of the patriarchate. This will allow Tawadros “to supervise spiritual, financial, and managerial aspects,” the Egypt Independent reported.

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