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Churches won't get into politics: Head of Egyptian churches council

Head of a council bringing together Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical and Greek Orthodox churches says the churches will not back a particular presidential candidate

Ahram Online, Tuesday 18 Feb 2014
Father Bishoy Helmi Amin
Father Bishoy Helmi Amin, the secretary general of churches council (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Views: 2620
Views: 2620

The head of the Egyptian council of churches, a grouping that brings together the Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical and Greek Orthodox denominations, has said that the group will not back a particular candidate in the coming presidential elections.

“The council has no political role but participates in national duties because we are part of this nation,” said Father Bishoy Helmi Amin in an interview with Al-Ahram Arabic marking the first anniversary of the formation of the council.

Amin said the church does not get into politics and should not “urge” people to vote for a particular candidate, referring to military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who is yet to announce a presidency bid but is largely expected to win if he does.

“The public is now aware of who is best to serve the country and would be faithful to it,” Amin said.

The council was formed by Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, to which around 90 percent of Christians in Egypt belong. His predecessor Pope Shenouda had had the initial idea, according to Bishop Helmi Amin, the head of the council.

During its first year, Amin said the council had held a joint conference bringing together representatives of the five churches, and had attended local and international conferences about Christians in the Middle East and about national unity.

He said the council had also had to cancel some of its planned activities because of the political instability.

The country has seen a wave of violence on the street as well as a militant insurgency since Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country’s population, have regularly complained of a lack of rights and opportunities, and attacks by Islamist extremists.

The new constitution, however, contained some provisions that address Christian grievances, including criminalising arbitrary forced displacement.

Another article states that “the parliament shall issue a law to organise building and renovating churches, guaranteeing Christians the freedom to practice their religious rituals.”

The constitution was part of a roadmap which also includes presidential and parliamentary elections by summer 2014.

The council, formed of 13 committees, is also targeting “a wave of atheism,” he said.

“In their rebellious attitude against all that is traditional, superior, or in power, some of them deviate to denying God’s existence,” Amin said. “We organise workshops, books and films to counter the argument.”

The council is also tackling the idea of union between different Christian denominations.

“We should understand unity will not just come; there are extremists everywhere, but when the leaders of the different churches meet, the good spirit is passed on to successive generations,” he said.


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20-02-2014 01:40pm
Late but Not too late
It is good that finally Church realized that politics is not their business.This decision should have been come quite earlier.Involving the church in politics and siding shoulder to shoulder with a fascist regime prejudice with a political faction is only bring the Copts on the forefornt of the hate and retilation from the oponents of the repressor regime.
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Khofo, Giza
19-02-2014 02:23am
Unity of Faith and Disteny
Egyptians introduced organized religions to human race. we came up with crime and punishment, life after death, about faith and fraternity among all Egyptians. Coptic Christians built the first mosque Amr El-Aas as a gift to Arabs who liberated them from Romans. As Muslims, we must believe in Jeses, his virgin birth, his healing power, and his elevation to heaven. We do not believe in the Roman concept of Trinity that came 350 years after death.
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Aladdin, egypt
18-02-2014 09:14pm
It is good strategy and correct one. I bid you peace my brothers Egyptians to the core.
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