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The Plight of Coptic Christians: Egypt Engulfed in Violence, Christians in the Crosshairs

By Deacon Keith Fournier
August 17th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The news coming out of Egypt is horrible. The flames of hatred and division are engulfing this ancient biblical land. Forces aligned with the current government and those aligned with the ousted Muslim brotherhood shoot at one another while paying no regard for anyone else, including those who have the most ancient claim to that beautiful land, the Christians of Egypt.Reliable reports from Fr. Rafic Greiche, a spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, indicate that seven Catholic Churches and fifteen Coptic Orthodox and Protestant churches were attacked in Cairo and Upper Egypt. 

CAIRO, Egypt (Catholic online) - The news coming out of Egypt is horrible. The flames of hatred and division are engulfing this ancient biblical land. Forces aligned with the current government and those aligned with the ousted Muslim brotherhood shoot at one another while paying no regard for anyone else, including those who have the most ancient claim to that beautiful land, the Christians of Egypt.

The reports indicate that over 500 people have been killed and over 4,000 severely injured in clashes between the warring sects. The streets were literally a battlefield, and the blood continued to flow. A State of Emergency has been declared. On Thursday, the situation seemed to have calmed down a bit in response to the massive show of force from the military government against the supporters of the ousted Muslim bortherhood leader, Morsi. Few expect the calm to last.

Reliable reports from Fr. Rafic Greiche, a spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, indicate that seven Catholic Churches and fifteen Coptic Orthodox and Protestant churches were attacked in Cairo and Upper Egypt.  Yet, that piece of important news has not been reported on any of the news sources which I have read or watched. There seems to be a virtual blackout concerning the plight of the Coptic Christians. 

The suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt requires our urgent prayer and action. Yet, so many people, including Christians, are not even aware that they are not only being caught in the crosshairs of what is often violence between Muslim sects, but they have become the very focus of much of the violence precisely because they ARE Christian.

The history of Christianity in Egypt dates back to the visit of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to that land. (Matt. 2) It predates any claimed Islamic history in that land. To the Christians who live in that historic land, the history of the Christian Church is the history of Egypt. They are courageous, holy men and women who need our prayers and support.

The Apostle Paul exhorted the early believers to "do good to all, but especially to those of the household of the faith." (Gal. 6:10) Our solidarity with fellow Christians gives rise to one of our highest obligations of our lives. They are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ in Egypt. Are we standing with them?

The Evangelist Mark brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Egypt in 61 A.D. and planted the Church there, deep in the soil of that land of martyrs and saints. Egypt has a proud, long, unbroken and vital Christian heritage. We must pray for, stand with, and defend the Christians in Egypt as hostility toward the Christian faith grows.

The majority of Christians in Egypt are Coptic Orthodox. The very word "Copt" comes from an early Greek name for Egypt. Christianity and Egypt have a long and holy history. In addition, there is a strong, ancient and devout community of Coptic Catholic Christians. The relationship between the two Churches is strong - and growing stronger under the persecution which they face together.

One of the reasons why the persistent and accelerating persecution of Christians in Egypt is so reprehensible is that their claim to live in this land is so strong, vital and clear. This is a real matter of social justice which is not being addressed by our Nation. This is an egregious violation of fundamental human rights.

Yet, who is standing up for these Christians in Egypt?  Are we? Where is the US President, the Secretary of State, the Obama administration in the face of the escalating hostility shown to Christians in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and this new regime which ousted them? Why are we not reading about the plight of Christians or seeing reports on the main stream media?

We regularly cover the plight of our Coptic Orthodox and Catholic Christian brethren in Egypt. They are heroic witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their suffering and the shedding of their blood for the ancient Christian faith should draw every Christian to our knees. It also demands a response of support and solidarity from all who can help them.

We have repeatedly urged our global readership to pray for Coptic Orthodox Christians, Coptic Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians in Egypt in this critical hour. The presence of Coptic Christians in this ancient holy land is vital. Their presence precedes any Muslim claims to that great nation. They have a right to be there and to be protected.

They are all our Christian brethren, joined to us in the bonds of our common Baptismal communion. We have a special obligation, a duty, to them and we will do everything we can to call attention to their plight. Please, join with us in praying for the Christians of Egypt and do all you can to call attention to their plight.

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