In an urgent letter, the Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak has called on the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) for help for the faithful in his Patriarchate.
“We have received many threats, and we ask God to protect the churches, the people and our country.”
The letter from Patriarch Ibrahim is no ordinary message. It is the urgent appeal of a shepherd who fears for the safety of his flock; a call for help from a country that can no longer offer protection to its citizens.
Every day, Egypt is shaken by violence. The struggle between the various parties is ruthless and implacable. Extremist groups spread chaos and fear; government and religious buildings are their preferred targets. “More than 40 churches, more than 100 houses and 150 shops belonging to Christian people, police stations, the library of Alexandria, and museums have been attacked or burned,” wrote the Patriarch. This is the terrible effect of the war. And in the middle of this madness are the civilians, entirely at the mercy of the unrest.
The Patriarch in his letter went on to describe how the Christians in the Patriarchate no longer feel safe. In Kobry El Koba (Qobba) – a district of Cairo – employees go to work in fear of their lives. This district of Cairo has become a hub of the fighting, because the ministry of defence is nearby. In the port city of Alexandria, terrorism holds even greater sway and Christians there are subjected to continuous assault. Demonstrations around the Coptic Catholic Cathedral in Alexandria represent a permanent danger to the faithful, who wish only to celebrate Mass without fear.
In order to at least give the faithful a feeling of security, the worried Patriarch intends to build walls around the cathedral in Alexandria and all ecclesiastical buildings in Kobry El Koba. He is aware that these walls will provide minimal protection “against assaults, throwing stones and starting fires from outside,” but they will help limit the Christians’ fears and increase their feeling of security. The Patriarchate is too poor to be able to afford the cost of the walls by itself. “This is not just a project, it is an urgent pastoral appeal” wrote the Patriarch. ACN will assist with this appeal.
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