37. Issues from the annual meeting of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church

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37. Issues from the annual meeting of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church
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Katia Saqqa


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The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church held its annual meeting. Contrary to all expectations, the Holy Synod did not decide on any punishment in the trial against clergymen who had made allegations against Bishop Bīshūy and the Holy Synod. Rumors have spread about the church’s boycott of Waṭanī weekly following their coverage of the laymen’s conference.

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On Saturday, May 26, 2007, the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church closed its annual meeting headed by Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, patriarch of the See of Saint Mark.
Incidents in the Upper Egyptian village of al-‘Ulayqāt in Qinā governorate were the focus of the meeting’s discussions.
Al-Miṣrī al-Yawm of May 27, 2007, reported that the discussions’ main concentration was on how to put an end to the recently repeated aggressions committed against Copts.
Sources close to Pope Shenouda informed al-Misrī al-Yawm of Pope Shenouda’s rejection of the compensations paid for the recent al-‘Ayyāṭ incidents. Saying that this was attributed to his conviction that accepting compensation means recognizing the ‘Urfī Council that the pope considers to be unlawful. [Reviewer: The ‘Urfī Council is most probably the reconciliation session held following the attacks.]
In Pope Shenouda’s opinion, recognizing the council will restrict Copts rights. The pope, according to the same sources, accepted the reconciliation just to save the lives of the Coptic minority in the village.
On the other hand, Pope Shenouda prohibited any clergyman from giving out any declaration in the media without first referring to the pope’s secretary. Pope Shenouda’s initiative is mainly to avoid the church from being involved in critical situations.
Church sources had reported to al-Miṣrī al-Yawm on May 26, 2007, that three main issues were to be discussed in the annual session of the Holy Synod. Namely, the possibility of questioning Bishop Kyrillos of Naj‘ Ḥammādī after an alleged conflict with Bishop Bīshūy, the general secretary of the Holy Synod.
This is also the possibility of questioning Bishop Paphnotius of Samālūṭ for publishing a book calling for reform in the church. The third issue is related to the possibility of judging Waṭanī newspaper after their coverage of the second session of the laymen’ conference without denouncing what the church considered to be attacks against the Christian doctrine and the Bible.
At the end the sessions of the annual meeting of the Holy Synod no news was reported about trials or questioning.
Bishop Kyrillos was neither tried nor questioned. On the contrary, al-Dustūr of May 27 reported a friendly meeting between Bishop Kyrillos of Najc Ḥammādī and Bishop Bīshūy, general secretary of the Holy Synod.
al-Miṣrī al-Yawm of May 27, 2007, mentioned that Bishop Kyrillos presented a written apology and promised to change his strategy of dealing with priests of his archbishopric.
Kamāl Zākhir Mūsá, a Coptic activist and one of the organizers of the controversial laymen’s conference, said the church will not to bring any clergymen to trial due to the critical situation it is finding itself in, especially following the al-‘Ayyāṭ incidents and the commotion among the Coptic public regarding the excommunication of Dr. George Ḥabīb Bībāwī.
As for Waṭanī newspaper, Yūsuf Sidhum, editor-in-chief, said he could not speak about the Coptic Orthodox Church boycott of Waṭanī since he had not received any official information about this issue from the church.
Rumors spread about the Coptic Orthodox Church’s intention to establish a newspaper that will expectedly serve as the agent of the Coptic Orthodox Church.