The repetition of defrocking priests in the Coptic Orthodox Church has raised many questions about the authenticity of the decision and its possible impact on the defrocked priest’s life.
The Coptic Orthodox Church has recently defrocked Father Bula. The decision created considerable controversy in the Coptic milieus and opened the door to heated arguments about the reasons behind the decagons and the decency of the decision. [Read AWR 2009, week 28, articles 49 and 57 and week 29, article 44]
Rose al-Yūsuf of August 9, 2009 shed light on the defrocking of priests in the Protestant, Coptic Orthodox, and Catholic churches.
When a person is ordained a priest in the Coptic Orthodox Church he receives another priesthood name that is written in his identity card in addition to his previous civil name after a paper is signed and certified by the church. Should the priest be defrocked, he is obliged to go to the personal status department and change his identity card. However, in this case there is a possibility of fraud. If the priest does not amend the information in the identity card after being defrocked, he can face charges of fraud.
Pastor Nasr Allāh Zakariyyā of the Evangelical Church asserted that the Evangelical church does not have a punishment such as defrocking. He also asserted that defrocking should be done in a humane way so that it does not destroy the priest and his family, adding that the defrocked priests in the Coptic Orthodox Church beg to serve in the different churches in humiliating way.
On the Catholic part, Father Rafīq Graish stated that the Catholic Church does not defrock the priests in the way adopted by the Coptic Orthodox Church. He added that the church stops any priest who commits doctrinal violations from preaching for a certain length of time during which he undergoes spiritual companionship until he repents. Graish stated that a priest in the Catholic Church can be defrocked only under his own demand to leave.
In a related context, Rose al-Yūsuf of August 9, 2009 reported that a lecturer at the seminary of the Coptic Orthodox Church in al-Muharraq in Upper Egypt asked a priest in the church trials committee about the credibility of the pope’s decision to trial a priest.
The lecturer was accused of opposing Pope Shenouda who never violates the church rules. The unmentioned author of the article ironically headlined his article, ’Long live the democratic Coptic church policy.’