The laity

The role of the laity has been contentious in the modern era. The Majlis Milli (Community Council) originated in 1874 as the voice of lay opposition to the church hierarchy. Since 1955, its power has been curtailed, but members continue to be important advisers to the patriarch, who is now president of the Majlis. Former members of the Majlis are part of the electoral body that chooses the patriarch, as are other lay notables. But tension between clergy and laity continues as a certain clericalization of the Coptic Orthodox Church increases. An example is the Sunday schools movement, whose direction was formerly in lay hands, but has now been taken over by the bishops.

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