One of my great pleasures was visiting Egypt in 1977. While there, I was able to visit several monestaries in the Western Desert. The work and vision at Wadi Natrun, with Fr. Mattah el Misken was special. He shared a Word from the Lord they had received.They were then preparing to shelter an influx of Egyptian Coptic Christians fleeing a future persecution. Apartment units inside the walls were going up steadily.
This seems to be now happening as the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence increases. Perhaps this is part of the persecution they were told to expect.
Pope Shenouda visited the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor some years later, and I was able to be present at one of his presentations. I was also introduced to him by an aide who I met in Egypt.
It is encouragiing that both Coptic and Eastern Orthodox hierarchs were present for this 40th year Papal ordination anniversary celebration.
I believe that the 5000 patriarchs reported was a mistranslation. Either that number or the office of the attenders is mistaken. Perhaps Patriarchs refer only to those Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs, spiritual leaders of their various churches, who attended.
Nearly 5000 Copts and Eastern Orthodox patriarchs took part in a celebration event held at the papal office in Abbasseya.
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf sent a letter of congratulations to the pope, promising to personally visit him soon.
A number of public figures also attended the celebration, including former Deputy Prime Minister Yehia al-Gamal, Vice President of the Supreme Constitutional Court Tahani al-Gebali and former MP Georgette Qellini.
Members from the Mapsero Youth Union, a Coptic activist group, were also present.
Earlier press reports had said the pope intended to cancel the event, probably in protest of the bloody incident that took place outside the Maspero state television building on 9 October. That night, military vehicles reportedly ran over Coptic-led demonstrators decrying recent attacks on churches around Egypt. Twenty-eight people were killed in the violence.
Several human rights groups and activists have accused the armed forces of a deliberately violent response to the protests. This accusation has been denied by army officials.
Relations between the military and the Coptic community have degraded as a result of the Maspero incident.
Translated from the Arabic Edition