As Egyptian police authorities conclude their investigation into the senseless murder of Coptic Bishop Anba Epiphanius in late July, a picture is now emerging indicating that he fell victim to a Coptic traditionalists’ plot to halt a move toward solidarity between their Pope Tawadros II and Roman Catholic Pope Francis.
The year 2017 was a particularly violent one for Egyptian Christians, marked by the fatal stabbing of a priest; the killing of twenty-eight pilgrims while traveling to a monstery, and two Palm Sunday church bombings in Alexandria and Tanta killing forty-four people.
Following these attacks, the Vatican approached Tawadros with renewed gestures of solidarity. Both Popes Francis and Tawadros have engaged in dialogue that could culminate in a mutual recognition of baptism rituals, pilgrimage sites, and reconciliation of their liturgical calendars. Bishop Epiphanius, a theologian respected for his Arabic translations of early Christian sources written in ancient Greek and the pre-Islamic Coptic language, was the “point-man” for the proposed changes.
Coptic traditionalists have been extremely vocal in their criticism of the late Bishop and opposition to Pope Tawadros’ gestures of unity toward the Roman Catholic Church.
Alexandria’s Public Prosecutor filed documents in court on September 3, 2018, alleging that monks Wael Saad and Remon Ramsi Mansour murdered Epiphanius due to “ideological and financial disagreements.”
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