April 20, 2013

Monks vow Christian voices will not be silenced

After violence at their cathedral laid bare their vulnerability, Egyptian monks are more vocal.

By HAMZA HENDAWI The Associated Press

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A monk at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Egypt smiles serenely while, in turbulent times, his brethren are apt to be more politically assertive.

The Associated Press

"No one can cover up facts or silence Egyptians anymore. That party is over."

For monks to talk like this is a dramatic sign of the sentiment among Christians here. Egypt's estimated 1,200 monks constitute the heart and soul of the Coptic Orthodox Church, one of the world's oldest denominations. Over the centuries, monks have been seen as protectors during bouts of persecution through history.= Egypt's monasteries saw a revival in the 1970s. Today, tens of thousands of Christians flock to festivals on saint's days at major monasteries like St. Anthony's. "

The monks are the church's first line of defense because our role is to constantly pray to protect the church and comfort the flock," said 65-year-old Father Bakhomious, a monk at St. Anthony's.

He said the attack on the cathedral in Cairo was "painful - a defining moment in the history of Egypt and the church."

"Revolutions have their cons and pros and we as Christians must endure and pray for stability and peace."

Christians felt empowered by their participation in unusually large numbers in the 18-day revolution that toppled Mubarak's authoritarian regime. Like Muslims, they rose up to create a democratic state that safeguards the dignity and rights of all Egyptians.

The April 7 violence at the cathedral showed Christians' anger and readiness to push back.


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