In the shadow of the pyramids, Christians begin to breathe


There is a glimmer of hope in Egypt: a new law on the personal status of Christians in the country should be tabled in Parliament at the end of January 2022. The future text aims to protect the rights of a minority which represents approximately 11% of the population. the Egyptian population.

A bill aimed at creating a tailor-made legal status for the country’s Christian minority will be considered by parliament, upon its return.

The preliminary examination of the text – wanted by Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, when he came to power in 2014 – nevertheless took time. The revision process required no less than 16 working sessions which brought together experts, government officials and representatives of different Christian denominations.

It was then necessary to summon the civil authorities in order to refine the text and obtain the consensus of all the ecclesial communities on the wording of the articles of the bill.

This law is supposed to protect the matrimonial rights of Christians, and more generally to grant a special status to this community which represents 11% of the total population of Egypt, and which constitutes the largest group of faithful in the Middle East, since about one out of two Eastern Christians is Egyptian.

The drafting of the text took longer than expected, due to the difficulty of guaranteeing and harmonizing the different disciplinary approaches on issues such as marital separation and divorce, which are regulated differently depending on whether one has deal with Catholic or non-Catholic Copts.

The future law should in any case benefit the Catholic minority which, in 2015, had 272,000 faithful – or some 0.27% of the population – spread over 213 parishes and 15 dioceses.

Among them, different rites coexist: the Catholic Copts – the most numerous with around 200,000 faithful – as well as the Latin Catholics, Greek Catholics, Syriacs, Maronites, Chaldeans and Armenians.

The Church in Egypt has existed since apostolic times, as tradition reports the presence of the Evangelist St. Mark, making it one of the oldest churches in the world. The Copts consider themselves to be authentic Egyptians, descendants of the pharaohs.

This Church was divided after the Council of Chalcedon (451) on the question of the dual nature of Christ, the majority considering in the Word incarnate a unique nature, a mixture of human and divine nature. This is called monophysitism.

It should be noted that the current pre-Chalcedonian Copts no longer profess a radical Monophysitism, but have come very close to the Catholic doctrine on the two natures of Christ.

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