The spokesman for Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church Boulis Halim said on Sunday evening the decision by the Holy Synod's Monastic Affairs Committee to defrock monk Isaiah El-Maqary of the Abu Maqar monastery was taken for monastic reasons, and is not related to the recent death of Bishop Epiphanius.
The statement clarified that the decision to defrock the monk on Sunday “has no relation to the current investigations into the martyrdom of Bishop Epiphanius”, and that the defrocked monk had been investigated before by church authorities and previously suspended for breaking monastic rules.
Bishop Epiphanius, the head of the Abu Maqar monastery, was found dead at the monastery on 29 July under what the church has described as “suspicious circumstances.”
Prosecutors are currently investigating the death of Bishop Epiphanius.
Halim had said the decision was approved by Pope Tawadros II.
The decision stripped the monk of his ministry and dismissed him from the monastery. He was also be required to revert to his secular name.
After announcing its decision, the Holy Synod 's committee called on all Coptic Christians to preserve Coptic monasticism and its great history by abiding by the directives of the monasteries pertaining to visits and Christian solitude.
On Thursday, the Monastic Affairs Committee of the Holy Synod, the highest decision-making body of the Coptic Orthodox Church, issued 12 new decrees regulating monasteries following the death of Bishop Epiphanius.