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in his ecumenical appeals, Matta al-Miskin stresses the historical character of doctrine, which he maintains is part of the inculturation that is central to Christian faith as faith in the incarnate Son of God. The church is called not only to manifest Christian unity but also to unite the world. This task presupposes a Christian unity, which can only be achieved through a communion of saints, that is, communion based on repentance, humility, love and mercy.44

Despite its spectacular renaissance, Egyptian monasticism still suffers from the latent antagonism within its ranks - and has done so for years. It reflects essential differences between the two key figures who have come to personify monastic renewal: the patriarch Shenuda III, himself a former monk, and Fr Matta al-Miskin. The abbot of St Makarios subscribes to the traditional monastic ideal of a society withdrawn within itself, which is immovable and acts on its environment only by witness and prayer, which, in turn, requires a renunciation of the world. By contrast, the model followed by Shenuda, as represented in the monasteries of Deir Anba Bishoi, has a direct impact on the outside world: just as they have played a driving role in the renovation of the church, the monks act as a ferment within the Coptic community by putting their own knowledge and the monasteries' infrastructure at the service of the community.

The Coptic Church since the election of Shenûda III as patriarch

The election of Shenuda III as patriarch also coincided with the change in political regime which followed the death of Nasser and the election of Sadat. Shenuda has attempted to provide the Coptic community not only with a church that is capable of defending the interests of the community within Egyptian political life and society, but also with a church which will support andnourishthe spiritual needs ofthe community and by extensionthe religious culture and civil society of Egypt.

The Coptic Church possesses a strongly popular character, which manifested itself in the election procedure.45 The first step was to publish a list of nine candidates: this was drawn up in June 1971 by a special electoral commission of nine bishops and nine laymen under the chairmanship of the locum tenens.

44 Nevine Mounir Tawfiq, 'Le chrétien et la société dans la pensée du père Matta al-Maskin', Proche-Orient Chrétien 50 (2000), 80-104.

45 O. Meinardus, 'Election procedures for the patriarchal throne of Alexandria', Ostkirchliche Studien 16 (1967), 132-49, 304-24.

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