Cairo – The candidacy of Coptic Orthodox priest Paula Fouad (photo) in the next parliamentary elections reopens the debate on the direct involvement of the clergy in politics. The priest, parish priest of St George church in al Matarya, should run for the list called “Coalition of Independents”, in the electoral constituency which also includes Cairo.
In the past, several priests and bishops were part of political formations in Egypt, as in the Coptic Orthodox Church only monks are obliged to avoid any direct personal involvement in the field of politics. Now, in the absence of clear rules, the announced candidacy of priest Paula Fouad becomes a starting point for controversy between observers and commentators who hold different opinions about the appropriateness of his choice.
Some Copts re-launch the appeals – made in the past also by the high ecclesial hierarchies – not to mix religion and politics, at a time when in Egypt and in all the countries of the Middle East, many support the need to reaffirm the secularism of political institutions before the emergence of sectarian parties. Other commentators point out that the recognition of the secular nature of civil institutions must serve to reaffirm the principle of citizenship and to counter any discrimination among citizens, allowing everyone – including members of the clergy – to engage in first person in the political sphere.
The voting to choose the members of the House of Representatives will be held in various stages, from 21 October to 8 November. In the previous parliamentary elections of 2015 – reports CoptsToday – 36 seats of the 568 available were assigned to Orthodox Coptic candidates.
Source: Agenzia Fides