The World Council of Churches, Christian Churches Together in the USA, and the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have issued statements in the last few days calling attention to the crisis of political unrest and violence in Egypt.
A WCC release highlights statements by general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, who said in part, “Protection of all human life and sacred sites is a common responsibility of both Christians and Muslims.”
CCT’s pastoral letter, signed by the presidents of its five faith “families” including Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden as president of the historic Protestant family, said in part, “As followers of the Prince of Peace, we mourn from afar the loss of lives and pray that peace be restored.”
The statement by church leaders in Jerusalem said in part, “We strongly condemn these acts of vandalism carried out by some extremists, and call upon all parties to stop violence and killing and to work towards national unity, without which Egypt will risk a civil war.”
The three documents follow in full:
Christian Churches Together in the USA:
“A Pastoral Letter to All Christians and People of Good Will”
Grace and peace be to you, in the name of our Lord and Savior!
We write to you as leaders of Christian Churches Together in the USA. During the last three weeks of political unrest in Egypt, we have witnessed with great concern the escalation of violence. Hundreds of lives have been lost because of this violence. As followers of the Prince of Peace, we mourn from afar the lost of lives and pray that peace be restored.
In a more particular way, we are concerned for the ways in which this violence has affected the very lives of Christians in Egypt. Different news sources have reported how Christians have been the object of targeted violence because of their faith. These same sources have also reported how in many instances people of other faiths (particularly Islam) have risked their own lives to protect their Christian neighbors. We give thanks to God for those who have risked their lives to offer protection. We lament the violence against our brothers and sisters in Egypt.
We raise to our God the following prayer from the Coptic tradition:
“Make us all worthy, O our Master, to partake, of your holies unto the purification of our souls, our bodies and our spirits. That we may become one body and one spirit, and may have a share and an inheritance with all the saints who have pleased you since the beginning. Remember, O Lord, the peace of your one, only, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”
We make an appeal to the U.S. government and other world political powers to actively seek, together with the people of Egypt, a prompt solution to this political crisis. But even more, we appeal to all Christians and people of good will to unite in prayer for the safety of followers of Christ and for peace in Egypt.
Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy!
Rev. Stephen Thurston, Moderator, President of the Historic Black Family, National Baptist Convention, USA
Bishop Denis Madden, President of the Catholic Family, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, President of the Orthodox Family, Armenian Orthodox Church America
Rev. Gary Walter, President of the Evangelical/Pentecostal Family, Evangelical Covenant Church
Ms. Wendy McFadden, President of the Historic Protestant Family, Church of the Brethren
Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Executive Director of CCT
A release from the World Council of Churches:
“Supporting interfaith calls for peace in Egypt”
The World Council of Churches (WCC) Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed support for the interfaith calls to action for peace and security in Egypt. He encouraged religious leaders to work together to call for protection and to promote the sanctity of human lives and religious places.
Tveit appreciated a recent statement issued by Bayt al-‘a’ila al-misriyya (the Egyptian Family Home) which appealed for the “security measures to protect the churches, the mosques, the national and the religious institutions, as well as the sacred places.”
The Egyptian Family Home, an initiative of the Christian and Muslim leaders in Egypt, created in 2011, collaborates with WCC member churches in Egypt, including the Coptic Orthodox Church.
“Terrorism does not take into account the sanctity of religion,” notes the statement, issued on Aug. 15.
The Egyptian Family Home also encouraged “efforts exerted by the civilians either Muslims or Christians who are defending the churches in this crucial period, setting a sincere example of the Egyptian patriotism against the sectarian divisions and terrorism.”
Echoing the concerns raised in the statement, Tveit emphasized that “the future of Egypt with justice and peace is only possible through the commitment of all Egyptians.”
“Protection of all human life and sacred sites is a common responsibility of both Christians and Muslims. The WCC supports and stands in solidarity with the call for joint action and efforts for reconciliation and security by the religious leaders in Egypt,” he added.
In recent events following the Aug. 14 demonstrations, hundreds of people have been in killed, while several churches and mosques were burnt down in Cairo and around.
Statement from the Egyptian Family Home: www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/other-ecumenical-bodies/the-egyptian-family-home-statement/
WCC invokes prayers for peace in Egypt (WCC news release of Aug. 15): www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/wcc-invokes-prayers-for-peace-in-egypt
Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem:
“Blessed be Egypt my people…” (Isaiah 19:25)
We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, follow with great concern the dreadful situation in Egypt, which suffers from internal divisions, deliberate violence and terroristic acts against innocent people, both Muslims and Christians. Government institutions were attacked, a great number of Egyptian soldiers and policemen have been killed, public property was destroyed, and Christian churches were desecrated. The desecration and burning of churches is an unprecedented scandal and goes against the values of tolerance, lived in Egypt for centuries. We appreciate the fact that many Muslim compatriots have stood by the side of Christians in defending churches and institutions.
We strongly condemn these acts of vandalism carried out by some extremists, and call upon all parties to stop violence and killing and to work towards national unity, without which Egypt will risk a civil war.
We stand with the Egyptian people in their strife against terrorism and militant groups, both locally and internationally. We offer our condolences and sympathy to all victims and casualties and pray for healing of the wounded and afflicted.
We call upon the International Community to stand against violence and terrorism, to help the people of Egypt to overcome this cycle of violence and bloodshed, and to help to get the country back on track.
We pray the One Lord to enlighten the Egyptian leaders to save the values of democracy, dignity and religious freedom.
Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate
Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, The Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Abouna Daniel, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
Msgr. Yoseph Antoine Kelekian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate