The Catholic charity and Pontifical foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, is providing scholarships for the training of Priests in Egypt to expand their pastoral care to Christians in the country who, the foundation notes, have been marginalized.
In a Thursday, August 18 report, the charity foundation that supports Christians in areas experiencing religious persecution notes that Catholics in Egypt are less than 1 percent of the entire population, and that Christians, generally, are treated as “second-class” citizens in the country that links Northeast Africa with the Middle East.
In Egypt, the Coptic Catholic Church is in communion with the Holy See, ACN notes, adding, “Currently, the church, which has a small diaspora, has about 200,000 believers served by about 240 priests.”
“Aid to the Church in Need supports the Catholic Church in the country both through scholarships for priestly training and by promoting pastoral projects such as summer camps for young people. The aid organization provided over CHF 360,000 for projects in 2020,” the foundation reports.
ACN expresses regret that Christians in Egypt continue to suffer in a country where Christianity was the dominant religion “before Islamization in the 7th century”.
“The evangelist Mark is said to have missioned in Egypt around the year 50,” the foundation observes, and adds, “Today, depending on sources, between 6 percent and 12 percent of Egypt’s population describe themselves as Christians.”
Most Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, ACN reports, adding that Roman Catholics make up less than 1 percent of the population.
The Pontifical foundation highlights a time in history when many Egyptians emigrated as job seekers to oil-rich Saudi Arabia in the 1980s and 1990s.
In Saudi Arabia, the Egyptians are said to have come into contact with Islam and brought Islamism to Egypt.
According to the charity foundation, Egyptian Christians have since been increasingly marginalized in society.
In the media, all non-Muslims are referred to as “kuffar” or infidels, ACN reports, adding that in politics, important strategic key positions are reserved primarily for Muslims.
ACN reported in January that Islamists in Egypt were using mothers and their children to wage war against Christianity in the Northeastern African country.
Michele Clark, a professor who co-authored a report by ACN on the sexual victimization of Christian women said that violence against women “does more than tear families apart”.
In the January 21 report, the U.S. human and women’s rights expert and adjunct professor at the Elliot School of International Affairs in Washington told ACN Germany that children born when Christian women are kidnapped and married off to Muslims never go back to being Christians.
“Violence against Christian women is a weapon being used to wage war against religious minorities. This also has something to do with the structure of Islamic law,” Ms. Clark said.
Christian persecution in Egypt, ACN says in the August 19 report, was worse between 2012 and 2013, when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power with President Mohammed Mursi.
“Christians had a particularly hard time under them – they made Christians strangers in their own country,” the Pontifical charity foundation reports, adding, “Since the presidency of Abd al-Fattah Sisi, things are looking better for Christians, and churches are once again allowed to be built.”
ACN further notes that “even under Sisi, the attacks continue. The terrorist militia IS declared war on the Christian Copts in February 2017. Since then, there have been various violent excesses.”
Agnes Aineah/ aciafrica.org