HG Bishop Angaelos on Iraq, Syria, Egypt, the Middle East

For immediate use 14 August 2014

 Coptic Orthodox Church UK Media and Communications Office

 Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe) Media and Communications Office

 Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, on the anniversary of the unprecedented attacks on Churches in Egypt, and the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the Middle East As we witness the atrocities in Iraq and Syria, and share the pain of those who are displaced and have lost loved ones, we also remember those commemorating the first anniversary of painful events that unfolded in Egypt over the coming days. Whether considering communities and families who lost loved ones in the pro-Morsi protests in the suburbs of Cairo, or the scores of Christian communities whose churches and places of ministry throughout Egypt were subsequently attacked, the continuing need for healing and reconciliation is ever present. These events in Egypt are now anall-too-distant memory for many around the world, but for those personally touched by them, there remains real pain. For most, this pain is accompanied by a sense of immense loss, while for some who take a more radical line, by anger and a need for violent retribution. This need drove a small minority, a year ago, to retaliate against the scapegoated Christian community of Egypt that chose the extraordinary path of non-retaliation despite the unjustified and unprecedented level of attacks. Their restraint was, and continues to be, a powerful witness that has provided a strong foundation for peace and reconciliation. Whether addressing Egypt, Iraq, Syria, or the broader Middle East, peace, stability, cohesion and reconciliation are traits of unified and unifying states, and can not come about without the support of a proactive and intentional effort from those who govern them. With the atrocities we are witnessing at the forefront of our minds, we continue to advocate for those, regardless of race, religion or belief, who are suffering, and pray God’s grace and strength upon them as they currently endure immense challenges and persecution, and endeavour to move ahead from a place of mourning and loss. As the situation facing Christians and minority groups in the Middle East increasingly spirals to new and dangerous levels of exclusion and dehumanisation, the need is intensified for both the unified Body of Christ within the Christian family, and the global community as a whole, to stand in solidarity with those suffering, condemn acts of brutality, and provide whatever assistance may be needed, while at the same time, explore every possible means of healing, rebuilding and restoring of communities and lives. We continue to hold those suffering great struggles, indignity and the loss of precious human life in our prayers, that grace, healing and strength be bestowed upon them all at this time. We also pray for those committing these atrocities, that they will one day realise the sanctity and dignitygranted equally by God to every human life. *Ends* View all statements and press releases via www.CopticMediaUK.com