AFRICA/EGYPT - Copt Catholic Patriarch: let us look to the new martyrs and ask more insistently for Christ to protect us in hope

Cairo – The massacres on Palm Sunday “were a test for the faith of Egypt’s Christians. Pope Tawadros is sorrowful and deeply saddened, it is not easy to speak with him. We, seeing what is happening, can only look at the new martyrs and call ever more insistently on Christ to comfort us and safeguard our hope in the Resurrection”. This was how Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, Primate of the Copt Catholic Church expressed to Fides the feelings of many baptised Egyptians, after the carnage perpetrated last Sunday by suicide bombers in two Copt Orthodox churches, for which terrorists claiming responsibility also claimed to be affiliated with so-called Islamic State .
“The day of the attacks” Patriarch Sidrak tells Fides “I was in Alexandria celebrating Mass in our Cathedral, which stands only 200 metres away from the Copt Orthodox Cathedral. We clearly heard the loud explosion”.
According to the Catholic Patriarch, “the fact that Pope Francis has confirmed his imminent visit is an important sign for Egypt’s Christians and for the entire country: cancellation of the programme could have given the impression that bloodshed and terror can prevail”.
To counter terrorist strategies, the Primate of the Copt Catholic Church considers inappropriate the strategy of only repression and finding the assassins, after crimes have been committed: “Behind these inhuman acts, whose traits are diabolic lie discourses that nurture hatred, and which circulate even on the media, influencing the mentality of great numbers of people. For two years now, Egypt’s President al Sisi has been insisting on the need to change 'the way religion is presented' to cut at the roots hateful thoughts which feed terrorism. But no one listens to his words. Not even circles connected with al Azhar are convinced of the need for change”.
After these attacks – the Patriarch told us - “from all over we receive requests to tighten security measures in front of churches in view of our Holy Week liturgies. And we churches have to pay the price for security services. I have no intention of accusing anyone, but many are saddened to see the same attacks time and time again, with the same method, nothing seems to change. In this situation, very often it is our lay people who offer comfort and support and hope to all. Let us pray that the Lord will demonstrate his victory and change the hearts of these murderers, as Pope Francis prays. With these supplications let us go to meet the Risen Jesus to celebrate his Resurrection on Easter Day”. .