Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of Coptic Orthodox church (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian Copts are free to decide for themselves whether or not to take part in planned 30 June anti-government rallies, the Holy Synod of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church has stated.
Synod members issued the statement at a Thursday meeting, where they also announced that a new church spokesman would soon be appointed by Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.
The Holy Synod, which is comprised of 120 archbishops, represents the church's most authoritative decision-making body.
Opposition parties and groups have issued calls for mass protests on 30 June, which will mark the end of President Mohamed Morsi's first year in office, to demand Morsi's ouster and snap presidential elections.
The protest calls were initially made by the anti-Morsi 'Rebel' campaign, which on Thursday announced that it had met its target of 15 million citizens' signatures in support of its demands.
In April, Pope Tawdros criticised President Morsi for failing to protect Cairo's main Coptic Orthodox cathedral during sectarian clashes that left two dead and dozens injured.
Later the same month, the pope told Reuters that Egypt's Coptic Christians were facing increased marginalisation.
Egypt's Christian community, accounting for an estimated 10 percent of the national population of 84 million, have long complained of discrimination in the Muslim-majority country.