Coptic Church Is In Safe Hands.
The foundation of a new church in Egypt headed by Max Michel as the Archbishop of True Orthodox Christians was highlighted by the media in a manner which far out-weighted the magnitude of the issue. Some have accused the media of amplifying the issue to stir sectarianism. Such a claim is an exaggeration; there is no place here for the conspiracy theory usually recalled at times of crises. The media is entitled to cover events and present divergent outlooks. In fact, many of the social ills which have long ravaged our society remained buried under the surface until they were brought to light and investigated by the media. In such cases the media informs, promotes awareness, and protects public opinion from falling prey to fallacious concepts or attitudes.
As regards the issue of Max Michel’s church, it should be stressed—a priori—that the Coptic Orthodox Church is so deeply entrenched and firmly established in Egypt that there can be no serious threat to it. Its congregation and clergy should rest assured that there is no reason for confusion or fear. Churches are not commercial projects competing for customers. The Coptic Orthodox Church has a history which stretches 2000 years back, shelters Christian faith and guides millions of true believers who find comfort and peace in God. It is inconceivable that these millions could be easily tempted to join an upstart church. It can be further said that, besides the Church’s spiritual core, these millions form the shield which protects it.
The recent wave of fear and worry, and the call by some to defend the faith against an alien incoming church is uncalled for. It only serves to make heroes of the advocates of the new church project, and depict them as victims of persecution and oppression. Pope Shenouda III did well to hold a press conference to tackle the issue upon his arrival home from the US where he had been on a trip for medical treatment. The Pope’s words were confident, affirmative, calm and reassuring. In reply to worried questions, he said that the issue was too minor to be raised to the presidency, and that the US administration was neither behind nor supported this breakaway church. He challenged those who ordained Max Michel archbishop to prove he was affiliated with any of the Orthodox churches, whether the 15 Western Orthodox or the six Eastern churches.
Max Michel, the pope said, acknowledged the seven councils of Orthodox churches, while our Coptic Orthodox Church acknowledged only three. The Pope’s sensible statements assured millions that the Coptic Church is in safe hands and holds on to the true faith.The Pope further tackled an issue long placed on hold when he warned that Max Michel insisted on wearing garments similar to those of Coptic Orthodox archbishops, which may be dangerously misleading to simple folks. "We have long demanded that the formal clerical garments of the Coptic Orthodox Church should be registered and limited to the use of Coptic Orthodox clergy. President Mubarak promised to meet this demand and I do not know why nothing has yet been done about it". Registering clerical costumes is in fact one among many issues placed on hold—such as passing the unified personal status law for Christians. Shelved, these issues are time bombs ready to explode at any moment.