Pope Tawadros II, the 118th pope of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church (Photo: Reuters)
Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II cancelled his weekly sermon on Wednesday and postponed reception of mourners coming to pray for Copts killed in recent sectarian attacks, according to a statement issued by the papal office on Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier on Tuesday, the pope criticised President Morsi’s handling of sectarian violence which has left eight people dead since Saturday.
Two people were killed and at least 90 injured on Sunday when unknown assailants attacked mourners outside the cathedral in Cairo. A funeral service had been held for four Copts killed on Saturday in sectarian violence in Qalioubiya, north of Cairo.
Police fired teargas over the cathedral walls and reportedly stood by as unknown assailants armed with birdshot, knives and petrol bombs attacked those inside the cathedral's grounds.
In an interview on private television channel ONTV on Tuesday, Pope Tawadros II, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, described the attacks as a “chaotic and flagrant assault.”
He said he had spoken by phone with the President Morsi, who had promised he would do everything possible to protect the cathedral, the headquarters of the Coptic Orthodox Church. But “on the ground, we did not find this," the pope added.
"This is a dereliction of duty and a failure, which is the responsibility of the security apparatus,” he added.