Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Copts Take on the CDF


EGYPT: One Pope Takes On Another

Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

CAIRO, Jul 24 (IPS) - A recent statement by Pope Benedict XVI in which he declared the Roman Catholic Church to be the only "complete" Christian faith met with angry responses from the heads of several western, Protestant denominations. In Egypt, meanwhile, Benedict's assertion about Eastern Orthodox churches -- that they "lacked something" in their capacities as churches -- prompted no less of an angry reaction from the Orthodox Coptic Christian community.

"It's the Vatican's right as a religious institution to establish its own internal doctrines particular to itself," Youssef Sidhoum, editor-in-chief of independent Coptic weekly al-Watani told IPS. "But it doesn't have the right to issue statements passing judgment on other churches."


Salib Meta, member of Egypt's Coptic Christian Religious Council, riposted by saying that it was the Eastern Orthodox rite that represented Christ's original church. "The Catholic Church is the one that...deviated from the true faith, which is represented by the Orthodox Church," he stated in a Jul. 11 interview on Arabic-language internet news service Alarabiya.net.

The Coptic Church, members of which represent an estimated 10 percent of Egypt's 75 million-strong population, split with the Catholic Church in the fifth century over differing views on the nature of Christ.


Shenouda went on to say that the Catholic Pope, in his latest assertions about fellow Christian churches, "has now also alienated many of the Christian denominations."


Only four days after the controversial Vatican statement, Egypt's Coptic Church held a reception in Cairo under the provocative slogan "The Coptic Orthodox Church is the only Christian Church". The event was organised to commemorate the reactivation of the church's official relations with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, frozen since 1994.

Sidhoum, however, criticised the church's choice of words, which he viewed as another unnecessary provocation.

"None of the churches -- even the orthodox ones -- have the right to call themselves the only 'true' Christian Church," he said. "Such statements can only lead to intolerance between Christians and between various Christian denominations." (END/2007)

The full article may be found here.

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