EGYPT: Church expresses confidence in President-Elect Mursi
By John Pontifex
Bishop Kyrillos William expressed confidence in the new president's willingness to work with all sections of society for the common good.
The acting head of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt has written an open letter to the country's new president full of hope for the emergence of a united, democratic and tolerant country.
In his message to President-Elect Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Bishop Kyrillos William, administrator of the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria, expressed confidence in the Islamist leader’s willingness to work with all sections of society for the common good.
Bishop William, who is standing in for Cardinal Patriarch Antonios Naguib, incapacitated by a stroke last year, described in his letter hopes of the country’s “renaissance” with the guarantee of security, peace and social justice.
Writing on behalf of the Coptic Catholic Church, which numbers 250,000 in Egypt, Bishop William told Mr Mursi: “We are confident that, with the help of the Almighty, and with your wisdom, you will be able to work for the best interests of the nation and its people…”
In the letter, a copy of which the patriarchate sent to Aid to the Church in Need yesterday (25 June) evening, Bishop William went on to highlight extracts from President-Elect Mursi’s post-election victory speech on Sunday (24 June).
Bishop William stressed Mr Mursi’s apparent “willingness to collaborate with qualified people and heads of all groups and sectors…”
The bishop stated: “We pray that the Lord gives you success in the search for… the development of a modern, democratic, civil state, a state that respects the rights and freedoms of all and guarantees security, peace and social justice.”
Concluding with a message directed at the Egyptian people, he called on all sections of society to reconcile and pull together to build a new country.
The bishop, who until Patriarch Naguib’s illness was Bishop of Assiut, Upper Egypt, wrote: “We wish that Egyptians forget their differences… and pull together with one heart for the good of the country… for Egypt needs the effort, experience, ideas and strength of all her children to bring about its renaissance.”
Bishop William’s comments echo those made yesterday (25 June) by fellow Coptic Catholic Bishop Joannes Zakaria of Luxor, who told Aid to the Church in Need that he was reassured by Mr Mursi’s post-election address, particularly its references to cooperation with Christians and other minorities.
Senior clergy have in the past expressed concerns about the rise of Mr Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which was oppressed by former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, and which has been variously described as militant, intolerant and Islamist.
In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need last month, Bishop Antonios Mina of Guizeh (Giza) responded to the continuing uncertainty over the outcome of the presidential elections by casting doubts on the Muslim Brotherhood.
He said: “The Muslim Brothers say one thing then tomorrow they do another thing. They don’t maintain their promises – that’s the problem.”