Monday, 27 June 2011

Egypt Patriarch's message of thanks

In April, our Head of Press and Information John Pontifex travelled with a small Aid to the Church in Need team to Egypt on a fact-finding trip. It was his second attempt to visit the faithful in Egypt, after the original travel plans were put on ice as the 25th January Revolution gathered pace. In this series of blogs, John  will be posting his diary entries from the trip, giving an eye-witness glimpse into life for Egypt's 10 million Christians - more than any other country in the Middle East.
Monday, 11th April 2011
Ever thought you were about to be killed?


That’s what went through my mind just a couple of hours ago. We were driving on yet another super highway when suddenly the car we were in suddenly died on us. Truth to tell it wasn’t a complete surprise, the car had been making some very peculiar noises and had had to be jump-started a little bit earlier on. But nonetheless, it was a total shock when it gave out on the middle lane of the motorway in the dark.

There were no street lights and so we thought that it was only a matter of time before a car driving at top speed ran into the back of us. Worse still, we were driving uphill. So at risk to life and limb, we got out and pushed the car to the hard shoulder, hoping (and praying!) the oncoming traffic would dodge us.

Fortunately, it did. We realised the vehicle had over-heated and the radiator was bone dry. The Patriarch’s secretary, whose car it was and who was driving at the time, was mortified and apologised profusely. A number of us were too busy semi-hyper-ventilating to stammer out a response! Anyhow, it all worked out ok. An SOS was sent out and sure enough another clergy vehicle came and found us and brought us back. I don’t think the Patriarch will have too much trouble persuading the head of Aid to the Church in Need's projects that it might be a good idea to help fund a new car.

In fact, earlier that day we had had an audience with the Patriarch in which he had stressed the importance of project support from Aid to the Church in Need. The Patriarch – who is a Cardinal at the same time (a sort of belt-and-braces approach to ecclesiastical authority) – explained the pastoral priorities of the Coptic Catholic Church. The prelate – by the name of Antonios Naguib – singled out formation – catechesis and Christian education – for the young and for priests and Sisters too.


He thanked ACN for its commitment to Christian schools, the training of Sisters and priests and for the charity’s work in support of catechesis and catechetical training centres. And he gave this very moving testimony to ACN’s benefactors:


video

He also went on to say that in this time of flux, when the political future is so uncertain, it’s crucial that bishops, priests, Sisters and lay people put their heads above the parapet and speak up and claim their rights in the new Egypt. Otherwise, they might just miss their one and only chance. He too warned about the rise of Islamism. He said: “We really rely on the friends and benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need. The most important thing they do to help us is pray for us.”

Find out how you can help Christians in Egypt

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