London, 9 April 2017. His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, issued a statement following two explosions in Coptic Churches in Tanta and Alexandria, Egypt.
“Today, Egypt’s Christians experienced yet another targeted attack, with a bombing of the Church of Saint George in Tanta during what was meant to be a joyous day of families celebrating Palm Sunday. A few hours later there was a second bombing in Alexandria, killing innocent men, women and children as they left a Palm Sunday Liturgy that was officiated by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark.
“While it is still too early to determine responsibility, what is undeniable is the senseless and heartless brutality that can lead a person or people to indiscriminately take innocent lives, especially at the most vulnerable hour of prayer.
“Today we suffer with our sisters and brothers who have experienced losses in London, in Stockholm, and as well as those who continue to suffer on a daily basis across the Middle East. We pray for them and their families as well as their suffering and struggling communities.
“We pray for His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and all our Coptic clergy in Egypt who continue to serve their spiritual children faithfully and diligently at a time in which their leadership and pastoral care is needed by our whole community. We also pray for our Coptic Orthodox sisters and brothers who continue to be resilient in the face of ongoing and escalating attacks, and who resist the urge to react vengefully or reciprocally.
“We are also saddened by the news that members of the security services who attempted to foil the second bombing in Alexandria lost their lives in the line of duty. We pray comfort and resolve for their families and colleagues.
“As we celebrate Palm Sunday today and Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, we now also mark the entry of those who have passed today into the heavenly Jerusalem. As we continue into the Holy Week of our Saviour, we share in the pain and heartbreak of their families and of all those affected by today’s incidents. As we celebrate the Feast of the glorious Resurrection at the end of this week, we are reminded that our life here on earth is a journey often filled with pain, at the end of which is a promised glorious and eternal life void of such suffering and evil.”
His Excellency Dr David Smith, Lieutenant for England and Wales of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, sent a message to Bishop Angaelos in response to his statement about the events of Palm Sunday in Egypt.
“On behalf of the Knights and Dames of our Lieutenancy, may I offer you our condolences for the terrible events of Palm Sunday in Egypt, as the Coptic Christians were celebrating the Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem at the start of Holy Week.
“We suffer in grief and prayer alongside your congregations in Egypt, in England and around the world. We pray for those twenty seven who were killed at St George’s Coptic Church in Tanta and the seventeen at St Mark’s Coptic Church in Alexandria, including the police.
“We praise God for the safe survival of Pope Tawadros II. You will all be in our prayers for the visit of Pope Frances soon to Egypt.”