Egyptians sue new church leader/Church warns of rebel priest
Egyptians sue new church leader
By Heba Saleh
BBC News, Cairo
A group of Coptic Christians have started legal proceedings against a
bishop who has said he setting up an alternative orthodox church in Egypt.
Father Maximus I appointed himself the head of a holy congregation and
plans to appoint bishops all over Egypt.
His opponents say he is trying to split the Coptic Orthodox Church to which
most Egyptian Christians belong.
Father Maximus I says his church is an attempt to restore the church to the
path set by its early founders.
But his opponents accuse him of being an impostor who has no right to
appoint himself head of an alternative Coptic Orthodox Church.
There are some seven million Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt and theirs
is the largest and oldest church in the country.
It is headed by Pope Shenouda III, who is currently undergoing medical
treatment in Europe.
Pope Shenouda expelled Father Maximus from the Ecclesiastical School in the
1970s as a result of his writings.
Father Maximus then went to the United States where he was appointed
bishop in one of the orthodox churches there.
Now back in Egypt, he is accusing Pope Shenouda's leadership of being the
worst in the church's history, saying that his actions have deepened
sectarian tensions with the Muslim majority.
Father Maximus is also critical of the Egyptian Church's near-total ban on
He speaks with confidence about the bright future of his new church.
But experts say Egyptian Copts are deeply conservative and it will be
extremely difficult to convince them to leave their ancient mother church.
Church warns of rebel priest
05/07/2006 11:25 - (SA)
Cairo - Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church on Wednesday refused to recognise a
dissident priest who recently broke away to form his own church, and warned
against dealing with him, said reports.
Max Michel recently proclaimed himself Archbishop Maximus I, after he broke
from Egypt's official church, headed by 83 year-old Pope Shenuda III, in
what some perceived as the first split in the Egyptian congregation.
A statement from the Egyptian Church said: "Michel received his religious
title from those who broke away from the Orthodox churches in the world,
particularly the United States.
"His title is therefore void because these people are not recognised by the
Orthodox churches around the world."
Father Maximus had said he planned to appoint bishops around the country in
a long-term expansion effort.
Shenuda had been undergoing medical treatment in Germany and the US for the
past month, which had led to speculation about the future of the Church and
the next pope.
Egypt's Copts make up six to 10% of the 72 million population.