Coptic Christian Priest Prefers Martyrdom to Slave Tax in Egypt
We must stand in solidarity with our Christian brethren in Egypt befoe any other political considerations
After the sweeping political victories Islamists made in the early round of elections in Egypt, the Deputy Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church Yohanna Qulta was interviewed on Arab television concerning the looming threat that Egypt's Christian communities will face in an Islamist society. The interview gives us unusual insight into the mind and heart of our Coptic brothers and sisters.
Salafis torch Christian homes in the village of Awlad Khalaf, Egypt this past summer on rumor of church construction. Photo courtesy of AINA
KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - After the sweeping political victories Islamists made in the early round of elections in Egypt, the Deputy Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church Yohanna Qulta was interviewed on Arab television concerning the looming threat that Egypt's Christian communities will face in an Islamist society. The interview gives us unusual insight into the mind and heart of our Coptic brothers and sisters.
Although the interview is only a few minutes long, the Deputy Patriarch's comments are wide-ranging and pack a powerful punch. They cannot be ignored. Therefore, I have included the interview in the attached video at the top of this page if you want to watch it. I also recap and discuss three points gleaned from the interview.
The three points are as follows: First, the West's failure to assist persecuted Christians in the Middle East and around the world. Second, Yohanna Qulta's excellent insight into the reason for the separation of church and state. Third, his willingness to sacrifice himself to the point of martyrdom gives us an example of courage and how we are to live.
The West's failure to assist persecuted Christians
What Yohanna Qulta said about America was painful to listen to. He said, "What did America - with 150,000 soldiers armed to the teeth - do for the Christians of Iraq? Churches were [burned] down, Christians were martyred, and America did nothing. What did America do for the Christians of Lebanon? What did it do for the Arab Christians? What did it do for the Christians of Rwanda and Burundi, one million of whom were killed?"
It was not his intention to accuse America, but to vocalize a reality he perceives, that the Copts, and Christians living in other Muslim countries, are essentially alone and cannot rely on America or any Western nation to help them. Given this harsh reality, the Deputy Patriarch believes that the Copts are at the mercy of their Muslim neighbors and will have to plead their case before them. He told the interviewer, "We will not turn to the UN or to the Western countries, but to Al-Azhar, to Islamic moral values, and to the vast majority of Muslims, who are moderate."
The Deputy Patriarch's comments remind us that when our Christian brothers and sisters are persecuted anywhere in the world, all Christians everywhere are diminished and harmed. This is true because we are all members of one body, the Mystical Body of Christ. In Acts 9:4, when Saul was persecuting the early Christian Church, Jesus said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" We may not see this reality or understand it, but it is true nonetheless.
However, we not only share in their suffering, we also share in the grace they merit for the Mystical Body, the Church. Thus, we need to open ourselves to God's gift of grace which is being poured out in exchange for the blood of all His holy martyrs. And when we do, despite the brokenness of the Christian family, Christians will begin to see themselves as one body, that is, one family belonging to Christ. And once Christians around the world unite, we will become the greatest power the world has ever known, for God will surely set us ablaze and use us to renew the face of the earth.
Separation of church and state
Realizing that the well-being of the Coptic community, maybe even its very survival, depends upon the separation of church and state, Deputy Patriarch Qulta also gave a passionate and reasoned appeal for Muslims to consider this form of governance.
He said, "The Church was liberated the day religion was separated from state. . . . It has been proven that a religious state is not compatible with human nature. The role of religion is to educate the human conscience. It shapes the conscience of humans, so that merchants have a conscience, engineers have a conscience, laborers have a conscience. Religion is not supposed to regulate traffic or taxes, or to determine whether one should wear the hijab or niqab. Religion is supposed to advise and guide, but to leave one with freedom of choice."
This is what we generally mean when we refer to Muslim society becoming secular. We are referring to a secular approach to governance and promoting a pluralistic society that allows for the coexistence of Muslims and non-Muslims, which is a meaningful example of tolerance. Viewed from this perspective, it is easy to see that a secular approach to governance serves to protect religion, not to reject it.
This is obviously not the same thing as modern Western secularism, which is not open to religion to educating the human conscience, or advising and guiding the people in social, economic and political matters. Rather, Western secularism is an ideology with its own unique claim to having a "morality". By definition it is supposed to be neutral toward religion, but in practice, it is aggressively ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Middle East News
- You'll be surprised to see what Palestinians are smuggling into Gaza
- Use Twitter, go to HELL
- As death and destruction rain down in Syria, refugees flee with lives to Jordan
- Hezbollah can reach Israel with missiles, report says
- Did intervention in Iraq unjustly discriminate against the Christians there?
- With Hezbollah statement, Syrian conflict threatens to spread into multinational conflict
- Chemical weapons in Syria - Did they or didn't they?
- The Most Powerful Weapon for Peace in Syria, The Trappist Nuns of Allepo
- Butchered in Baniyas! Women, children slaughtered in Syria (GRAPHIC WARNING)
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?