Catholic leaders in England have issued a statement standing united in prayer with the Coptic community after deadly explosions in two Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday:
'It is with deep sorrow and sadness that we learned of the bombing of St George's Coptic church (Mar Girgis) in the city of Tanta in the Nile Delta, and the explosion outside St Mark’s Coptic church in Alexandria. Both blasts took place during a Palm Sunday service, where traditionally palm branches are blessed as a symbol of peace. Nothing can justify these atrocious acts of terrorism.
'Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and the Coptic community across the world and the people of Egypt.
'We have sent an assurance of our prayers and a message of support to Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.'
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Archbishop Bernard Longley and Archbishop Emeritus Kevin McDonald - Catholic Members of the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Forum
Bishop Angaelos' Message:
On the same day, Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom released a statement decrying 'the senseless and heartless brutality that can lead a person or people to indiscriminately take innocent lives, especially at the most vulnerable hour of prayer'.
He went on to add:
'Today we suffer with our sisters and brothers who have experienced losses in London, in Stockholm, and as well as those who continue to suffer on a daily basis across the Middle East. We pray for them and their families as well as their suffering and struggling communities.
'We pray for His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and all our Coptic clergy in Egypt who continue to serve their spiritual children faithfully and diligently at a time in which their leadership and pastoral care is needed by our whole community. We also pray for our Coptic Orthodox sisters and brothers who continue to be resilient in the face of ongoing and escalating attacks, and who resist the urge to react vengefully or reciprocally.
'As we celebrate Palm Sunday today and Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, we now also mark the entry of those who have passed today into the heavenly Jerusalem. As we continue into the Holy Week of our Saviour, we share in the pain and heartbreak of their families and of all those affected by today’s incidents. As we celebrate the Feast of the glorious Resurrection at the end of this week, we are reminded that our life here on earth is a journey often filled with pain, at the end of which is a promised glorious and eternal life void of such suffering and evil.'