4. A controversial CD signals war between the church and Max

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Al-Sa‘dāwī reports on reactions of the Coptic Orthodox Church to Max Michel’s allegations that he has a CD that contains information about the increasing number of conversion cases of Coptic Orthodox under the mandate of Pope Shenouda III.

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Max Michel claimed that he has a CD on which an alleged meeting of Coptic Orthodox clergymen is recorded. Michel claims that the Coptic Orthodox clergymen discussed the increasing number of Copts who convert to Islam. Max Michel further claimed that Copts’ conversion has become more common under the mandate of Pope Shenouda.
He further claimed that the Coptic Orthodox Church is aware of this “loss” of its believers, and stated that he has a CD that proves his allegations, on which a monk called Anastasi al-Samū’īlī speaks about the issue.
However, al-Sa‘dāwī argued that upon listening to the 17-minute CD, he discovered that it contained cut-off statements from different persons and not a complete statement from one person.
One of the speakers stressed the need to have a priest and a servant to take care of the familial issues. Another person stated conversion affects belonging to Christianity. Someone else stated that there are many conversion cases everywhere in the Coptic milieus in Egypt.
Al-Sa‘dāwī interviewed Bishop Pachomius of al-Buhayrah and head of the faith confirmations committee at the Holy Synod, who denied Michel’s allegations, stating that the statements on the CD had undergone a montage, they were thus cut and pasted to appear in the way they are on the CD. He added that it is true that a monk, whose name he refused to mention, spoke about conversion but that was in the presence of Pope Shenouda III during the anniversary celebrations of his ordination as patriarch in 2002.
Bishop Pachomius added that the monk’s information was not correct. He added that the statement of his that was on the CD was cut from his refutation of the assumption that Copts number in Egypt decreased from 8.2 percent to 5.6 percent in the period between 1917 and 1987.
Bishop Pachomius stated that the original CD is available in all Coptic churches’ bookshops, and it will show the defectiveness of Michel’s assumptions.
On the other hand, al-Sa‘dāwī reported on declarations of close sources to the papacy that in his statements on the numerousness of conversion cases, Monk Anastasi al-Samū’īlī wanted to steal the limelight in an effort to prevent people from converting.
Father ‘Abd al-Masīh Basīt of the Mustardah antiquity church refuted Michel’s allegations, stating that Michel’s goal is to attract more people to join his church. He added that Michel never talks about conversion in other Christian denominations because he wants to gain the support of the other denominations. He reported on Dr. Ikrām Lam‘ī’s declaration in a TV interview that he complements Max Michel because, unlike the Coptic Orthodox Church, he acknowledges the Protestant Church to which Lam‘ī belongs and serves as a pastor.
Finally al-Sa‘dāwī stated that when confronted with the above cited reactions of the Coptic Orthodox clergymen, Max Michel refused to give any comment.

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