The recently canceled church trial of the bishop of Naj‘ Ḥammādī, Bishop Kyrillos, has raised questions over the standards of these trials and the secretary-general of the Holy Synod’s role in the trials.
Coptic communities have expressed great concern over the recent trial of Bishop Kyrillos, the bishop of the southern city of Naj‘ Ḥammādī. A complaint was signed by 11 priests sent to the Coptic patriarchate, and accused him of financial corruption and mistreating priests. Pope Shenouda III, however, personally intervened to end the case and send him back to his diocese.
People from the Diocese of Naj‘ Ḥammādī assert that the secretary-general of the Holy Synod, Bishop Bīshūy, has been threatening to bring Kyrillos to trial for five years due to mere personal discord.
Researcher Akram Rif‘at stressed the necessity of separating the litigation, the defense, and judgment in church trials. “In many cases plaintiffs were confused with interrogators, which poses an interesting need to separate all sides,” says Rif‘at. Missing completely in such trials is the defense, which the church completely ignores.
Mamdūḥ Ramzī, a Coptic lawyer, calls to openly hold church trials with a defense present as opposed to the present manner of secrecy which is affecting transparency.
Jamāl As‘ad, a Coptic thinker, defends this secrecy as it is acceptable for maintaining respect of the relation between priests and people. However, what is unacceptable is the manner in which trials are held, where personal purposes dominate the church trials committee, headed by Bishop Bīshūy.
As‘ad criticizes the church for watering down democracy as the secretary-general of the Holy Synod, Bīshūy, has been serving in his position since 1985, freezing elections during this period, which violates the synod’s law.