exclusively on the goodwill of the ruler. The Copts had once again become more of a traditional minority.
The emergence of a new university-educated Coptic middle class, which is more conscious of its own values, has seen the growth of the Sunday School Movement, where the young people of this middle class have taken a lead in Christian religious instruction, which was weak or non-existent in the public schools. The importance of the Sunday School Movement, which cannot be exaggerated, is due not so much to the number of people who receive instruction, although substantial, as to the fact that the group of catechists responsible for the movement became a sort of personification of the 'identity' of the new Coptic middle class.
It is from this milieu - from the youth of the new Coptic middle class who have put life into the Sunday School Movement - that the influential priests and monks come and it is upon this milieu that they first exercised their influence through a multitude of small publications, sessions, retreats and other means of contact. While the older Coptic notables were concerned with integrating their community into the nation as it was being formed and were searching for a lay way of life that was 'liberal' and some would say 'secular' in the name of democratic principles universally recognised, this new group-awareness, by contrast, is concerned first with the life of the Coptic community. All authentic service begins and ends with the Church . . . [and] has for its aim to link Christ and the community' (Matta al-Miskin).35 It could be argued that Arab nationalism, which has continued to root itself in Islam, has not been without influence on the style adopted by the Coptic renewal. The return to the Arab-Muslim heritage has a strict parallel in the return of the Christian to his Coptic monastic heritage.36
Egypt is the land not only where Christian monasticism originated, but also where the modern monastic revival began. For more than four decades large numbers of young Copts have retreated into the desert, reviving the ancient monasteries once founded in the fourth and fifth centuries. The monasteries
35 M. Martin, 'The Coptic-Muslim conflict in Egypt: modernisation of society and religious transformation', Cemam Reports 1 (1973), 31-54.
36 Dina El-Khawaga, 'L'affirmation d'une identité chrétienne copte: saisir un processus en cours', in Itinéraires d'Egypte: mélanges offerts au p'ere Maurice Martin, SJ, ed. C. Décobert [Bibliotheque d'étude 107] (Cairo: Institut francais d'archéologie orientale du Caire, 1992), 345-65.
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