Friday, 24 June 2016

EU Referendum: Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos


Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, following the results of the EU Referendum

24 June 2016

Over this past week, the United Kingdom has experienced a series of significant, challenging and sometimes painful milestones. With the long-awaited results of the EU referendum, and the tragic death of Jo Cox MP in the lead-up, emotions are high and there is potential for hostility and divisiveness to flourish. There is however the more positive outcome, that these events serve as a catalyst for a greater unity and a collective stance for the good of all.

While Jo’s tragic and wasteful death was unequivocally horrific and heart-breaking, it also gave rise to overwhelming acts of generosity from the general public and unrivalled comradery in the Houses of Parliament. This tragedy also sparked a significant conversation on the importance of solidarity and indiscriminate compassion for humanity, with the hashtags #LoveLikeJo and #MoreInCommon emerging to diffuse divisive rhetoric and promote understanding in the public sphere.

It is in this light and sentiment, and with the outcome of the EU referendum, the United Kingdom must now pull together, as it has so often done in the past, despite clear differences in opinion and direction. Division must not be allowed to take hold, and divisive rhetoric must not take root. While many would have preferred to see the UK remain in the EU, now is the time for us all as a nation to accept the decision that we have reached together through the democratic processes we have upheld for centuries, and indeed advocate for across the world. It is important for us to commence the healing process that is needed after these months of committed campaigning, and to comfort all who are now fearful of the future, and suffering the distress of uncertainty, especially due to the immediate effects on the economy.

Regardless of what the future holds for the United Kingdom we can be certain that we are in the hands of a mighty God Who is unchanging and with us throughout our various challenges. It is our role as Christians, not only to be stewards and active citizens within our countries, but to provide holistic support for all who find these events overwhelming and distressing.        

We pray for the Prime Minister, our parliament, and all those entrusted with the leadership of these great nations, confident that the United Kingdom will find a way to embark on this new stage in history, together united.


*Ends*

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Press Release: HG Bishop Angaelos gives Keynote Address on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East to over 700 MPs and other guests in the Houses of Parliament, later addressing 50 High Commissioners and Ambassadors in the State Rooms at the Palace of Westminster

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HG Bishop Angaelos gives Keynote Address on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East to over 700 MPs and other guests in the Houses of Parliament, later addressing 50 High Commissioners and Ambassadors in the State Rooms at the Palace of Westminster


14 June 2016

On 14 June 2016 His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, delivered the keynote address on the situation of Christians in the Middle East at the annual National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast (NPPB).  During his address Bishop Angaelos spoke specifically on the persecution of Christians and minority communities, and the millions subsequently displaced and living as refugees. His Grace addressed an audience of over 700 attendees including Members of the House of Lords, House of Commons, civic and faith leaders, ambassadors, and CEOs of advocacy organisations and NGOs. The Archbishop of Canterbury was also in attendance. The gathering was welcomed by the Lord Speaker, the Speaker of the House of Commons, and Fiona Bruce MP, Chair of this year’s Parliamentary Breakfast.

The NPPB is the largest gathering of any kind in parliament throughout the year. The event is held with the permission of the Speaker and the Lord Speaker and is an annual recognition of the contribution that Christianity makes to the national life of the United Kingdom. While themes of previous events have focused on topics of national impact, this is the first to address a global issue of this scale.

In his welcome, The Right Hon John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said:
 “‘The Church in the Middle East’ is a theme never more relevant than it is today. It is a magnificently chosen theme that will continue to be relevant at least until some of the prevailing discord…of which certainly there is an abundance, is either moderated or better still overcome altogether.”

In her welcome, The Lord Speaker, The Baroness D’Souza said:
“This breakfast theme…could not be more timely to explore the need for tolerance and understanding. I greatly look forward to hearing…as to how we make steps, if not leaps, towards this.”

In her welcome, Fiona Bruce MP highlighted that the attendance at this year’s Breakfast surpassed previous years, with over 150 MPs and peers and 730 people in attendance, saying:
“It is particularly encouraging that so many members of parliament are attending together with religious leaders from their constituencies…the fact that so many parliamentarians and peers are here today does, I believe, confirm their deep concern…”

“Let us seek to ensure that we in the United Kingdom are doing everything we can to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless in the Middle East, both to those who share our Faith, and those of other faiths or none.”

Speaking of the work that Bishop Angaelos has done in the area of religious freedom, she continued:
“I am particularly delighted and grateful that His Grace Bishop Angaelos will address us this morning as he has tirelessly advocated on behalf of the Church throughout the Middle East in recent years…”

In his address, Bishop Angaelos spoke directly to parliamentarians saying:
We often hold you to account for the decisions you make, yet often forget to hold ourselves to account to pray for you as you make those decisions. In the coming weeks those prayers will be more important because of the decisions that are going to be made for the future of Britain.”

Speaking of Christians in the Middle East, Bishop Angaelos said:
“Christians in the Middle East are indigenous people and reject minority status. They see themselves as intrinsic members, and indigenous peoples.”

He continued:
“As religious and civic leaders, we have an opportunity and responsibility to change the narrative and expectation of the Middle East from one of hopelessness and conflict to one of hope and promise.

We need to address the reality of this situation, that there has been a systemic, yet gradual prejudice, marginalisation and alienation of Christians and minorities allowed to continue over decades. This does not have to continue on our watch…”

Calling for collaboration, he went on to say:
“We must realise that the current situation is greater than us all; it needs us all to work together…There can no longer be a concept of ‘over there’ because families of those affected in the Middle East are members of your constituencies, our Churches, and our society as a whole…We are one very large community…our paths cross, our experience is one and our journey is one that we must share.”

“Regardless of which House one sits in, which Church one worships in, or indeed which faith one does or does not have, we must work together for the freedom and dignity of human life and speak with a collaborative voice.”

Elaborating of the calling and responsibility of Christians to advocate indiscriminately for all, Bishop Angaelos said:

“We are called in Scripture (Luke 4:18) to follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who came to ‘preach the gospel to the poor…heal the broken-hearted…proclaim liberty to the captives…set at liberty those oppressed.’ To be a Christian is to be an exceptional human being at the service of all humanity, for even the ‘Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45)”

“Our struggle is not just for Christians, but for human dignity. To pursue God-given rights is to serve the whole of humanity indiscriminately. As a Christian I cannot be selective as to who I love, honour or even forgive, as we are instructed by our Lord to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves.’ “There is no other commandment greater…” (Mark 12:31).

Shedding light on the hopeful witness of Christians in the Middle East, Bishop Angaelos concluded:
“The Church is defiant, the Church is resilient, the Church is alive.”

After the event Bishop Angaelos spoke to 50 High Commissioners and Ambassadors from a variety of faith traditions at a separate event in the State Rooms of the Palace of Westminster.

*Ends*

Photos, video and audio will be made available soon. E-mail Media@CopticCentre.com for more information. 






Friday, 10 June 2016

HG Bishop Angaelos attends service of thanksgiving marking Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday at St Paul’s Cathedral

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HG Bishop Angaelos attends Service of Thanksgiving marking Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th Birthday at St Paul’s Cathedral

  

10 June 2016

On the 10 June 2016 His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, attended the national service of thanksgiving in honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday. Held in St Paul's Cathedral, the service included a number of Christian hymns, prayers, Biblical readings, addresses and reflections. It was attended by over 2000 people, including members of the Royal Family, senior politicians, faith leaders and hundreds of members of the public nominated by government departments in recognition of their service. Bishop Angaelos, along with a number of faith leaders, took part in special prayers during the service for Her Majesty The Queen, who became Britain’s longest reigning monarch in 2015. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Press Release: House of Lords launch of report on religion-based asylum application process

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House of Lords launch of report on religion-based asylum application process



8 June 2016

The 7 June 2016 saw the launch of a report jointly commissioned by the Asylum Advocacy Group (AAG) and The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Freedom of Religion or Belief. The report, entitled ‘Fleeing Persecution: Asylum Claims in the UK on Religious Freedom Grounds’ explores the effectiveness of the assessment of religion-based asylum claims in the UK, and the impact of the asylum process on the fairness and quality of decision-making.

Those attending the launch heard addresses by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and Founder and Chair of the AAG, The Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, co-chair of the APPG, and Professor Geoff Gilbert, Professor of Law in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex.

Chairing the meeting, Baroness Berridge said:

“We are aware that the Home office is trying to make incredibly nuanced and difficult decisions… [and] are here to help and assist so that genuine claims are accepted...We aim to work with the Home Office to improve the quality of decisions so as to avoid the heartache and the time and resources of lawyers at tribunal hearings.”

Speaking of the vulnerability of those fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in the UK, Bishop Angaelos said:

“We have been working in collaboration with the Home Office for several years to ensure that the measures applied to determine the credibility of applications do not inadvertently disadvantage those truly in need of refuge and support.

While many have the benefit of freely choosing their faith or belief in some parts of the world, there are others for whom this decision makes them vulnerable to persecution, to the extent of sometimes threatening their very existence.

Conscious of the fact that some will desire to abuse the system, we must not forget the humaneness with which those legitimately applying on religious freedom grounds should be treated. This is not just a matter of statistics, because even if one case is misjudged, that represents one life placed at greater risk.”

Addressing the complexity of religious freedom case law and designation, Professor Gilbert said:  

“It is a mistake to ignore religious based persecution…[which is] not limited to state-based activity…Cumulative discrimination can amount to persecution if there is enough of it...”

The report listed a number of recommendations regarding the asylum process, aimed at improving the effectiveness and sensitivity of guidelines, amongst which was:

“Ensure that the asylum procedures are sensitive to the applicants’ experiences, backgrounds and well-being. Also ensure that applicants should not be caused unnecessary distress and should feel able to speak freely...”

Present at the meeting were members of both Houses of Parliament, as well as religious freedom and advocacy organisations and representatives of a variety of religious and ethnic groups.

For a copy of the report online, including the full list of recommendations as part of the Executive summary, click here.    
      
*Ends*






Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Press Release: Unprecedented meeting of Orthodox and Pentecostal Church leaders at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre

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Unprecedented meeting of Orthodox and Pentecostal Church leaders at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre


 7 June 2016

As part of a Churches Together in England (CTE) initiative, The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in the United Kingdom hosted an unprecedented meeting of Orthodox and Pentecostal Church leaders on 6 June 2016. The fraternal meeting, which aimed to build relationships, as well as discuss the issues of the persecuted Church and mission, was facilitated by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, Bishop Dr Eric Brown, Pentecostal President of CTE, and Bishop in the New Testament Church of God, and The Very Revd Archpriest Maxim Nikolsky of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In his welcome, Bishop Angaelos, stated the importance of the common witness of the Christian family regardless of differences of expression and denomination, saying:  
“There is such value in collaboration, and this historic meeting is the first of its kind in England, the United Kingdom, and possibly worldwide. While we all come from our particular backgrounds and theological understanding, today is a day to build bridges and to strengthen them.”

Going on to comment on the persecuted Church, he said:
“In seeing the persecution of our brothers and sisters around the world, and in speaking about mission, we must recognise that this is a time, more than ever, for us to stand together. We must continue to be advocates for all who are persecuted regardless of their faith or ethnicity. As countless thousands continue to be persecuted for their Faith, we must speak out when there is injustice, following the example of Christ, the Chief Advocate, Who came to indiscriminately provide hope and salvation for all humanity.”

During the morning session Bishop Eric Brown said:
“Today is a historic day, it is the coming together of the Pentecostals and Orthodox in this country, and essentially we are seeking ways in which we can jointly lift up the name of Jesus and to make Him known in a more powerful way in this nation. Hopefully we can get some consensus as to how we might address the issue of persecuted Christians worldwide.”

Bishop Dr Joe Aldred who works primarily with Pentecostal Churches in CTE, and who was the instigator of this meeting, said:
“Today marks a momentous and significant meeting point and a beginning I hope of a lasting fellowship and friendship between leaders. I hope that we can develop a better understanding of what Christians around the world are experiencing, and continue to dialogue and take action where possible together. The other strand of this meeting is mission, and how that mission of Christ in England is better done together than apart.”

Father Maxim Nikolsky said:
“It is important to meet people who certainly share much in common; to meet, to understand some of their way of thinking, and to see what it is that is common to us."

When asked about the persecuted Church, he continued:
“That is a very important topic especially in the modern day, and we need to see if there is anything that can be done on a personal level, and as a community. We read and deliberate on the subject, but we must look at what we can really do to help our fellow Christians, and all who are persecuted for their faith.”

As part of the closing session a discussion was held on ways to collaboratively tackle national and international issues of concern, including religious freedom in England, and the Middle East. It was agreed to establish a working group to develop partnership in fellowship and actions, and a provisional time was set for the next meeting of the group.

*Ends*

For more information please contact:


Thursday, 2 June 2016

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on the attack on the Coptic community in El Karm village, Menia, Egypt

2 June 2016

Background

On 20 May 2016 a violent mob shamefully stripped Soad Thabet, an elderly woman, of her clothes and paraded her through the streets of El Karm village in Egypt as a result of unsubstantiated allegations concerning her son having an affair with a Muslim woman. Since the attack, the woman in question has categorically denied the claims on national television, and as investigations continue, the armed forces, at the request of the Egyptian president, have begun to rebuild Christian homes torched during the attack.

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom


Days after having been stripped and dragged through the streets of her village in the most undignified and inhumane of ways, the gracious and forgiving response of Soad Thabet, an elderly mother and grandmother, is both courageous and inspiring.

The ethos of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt has always been one of forgiveness, as was particularly evident in its peaceful and reconciliatory response to the burning of over one hundred churches and places of ministry in August 2013, and following the brutal execution of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya last year. Having said that, there is currently a rejection of conventional ‘reconciliation meetings’ based on the fact that they have historically been used as a cosmetic short-term solution, without addressing root causes or preventing the recurrence of similar incidents. Despite an ongoing commitment to genuine reconciliation efforts, there is an immediate and pressing need for tangible solutions, as superficial measures that aim to pacify will by no means have a lasting effect, and can never lead to true reconciliation and social cohesion.

It is indeed shameful that such mob crimes can be perpetrated against innocent communities or individuals, of whatever faith or ethnicity, and especially as a result of slanderous and unsubstantiated allegations; and that an elderly woman could be so publicly and indecently humiliated. What is also unacceptable is the utter disinterest (at best) and/or complicit and criminal negligence (at worst) with which the local security services conducted themselves, and the Menia Governor’s initial denial that these crimes actually occurred.

In this light, President Sisi of Egypt has expressed a need for fair and transparent investigation, and amidst allegations that those apprehended for these crimes have been released on bail, the hope is that measures to safeguard every Egyptian citizen, irrespective of his or her chosen faith or belief, will indeed be effectively implemented.

As I commented last week, Egypt is at a formative stage of its contemporary history which requires a robust system of law and order that underpins an ethos of equal citizenship and accountability. Any such steps taken at the national level however are severely hampered and undermined by these recurring failures at the local level.

Our prayers are with all now tasked to carry out investigations and to bring healing and restoration to this community. Little can possibly be done to compensate the unprovoked injustice suffered by an innocent elderly mother in rural Egypt, but we continue to pray for peace and for the hearts and minds of perpetrators to be changed, paving the way for true reconciliation.

*Ends*



Thursday, 26 May 2016

Statement by HG Bishop Makarius of Menia and Comment by HG Bishop Angaelos on the incidents in El-Karm Village on May 20, 2016

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Statement by
His Grace Bishop Makarius of Menia
on the incidents in El-Karm Village on May 20, 2016

And comment by His Grace Bishop Angaelos
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

26 May 2016
The shameful incidents started in the village of El-Karm, located four kilometres from the town of El-Fekreya, near Abou Korkas, after rumours of an alleged relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman. The Christian man, whose name is Ashraf Abdou Attia, has been the subject of threats which forced him to flee the village, whilst his father and mother went to Abou Korkas police station to file an official complaint on Thursday May, 19 2016. The complaint specifically mentioned threats they had received, and their expectation that these threats would be acted upon the following day.

As expected, on Friday May 20, 2016 at 20:00 a mob of approximately 300 men carrying weapons attacked seven Christian homes, stealing all their contents and burning some of them to the ground, causing damage to the value of approximately 350,000 Egyptian Pounds.

During these attacks, the assailants stripped an elderly Christian woman of her clothes and paraded her in the middle of the street before a large crowdchanting and shouting. The security forces reached the village at 22:00 of the same night and arrested six people out of the 300, who are currently under investigation.

We trust that no honest person would accept this behaviour, and we also trust that the state agencies will take the relevant action, and not merely look on from a distance as observers. Based on this expectation, we thank the state agencies in advance, and trust that they will make every effort to holding all those involved accountable for their actions.

Having spoken directly with Bishop Makarius, and commenting on his statement and recent incidents, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom said:

It is indeed shameful that such mob crimes can be perpetrated against innocent communities at all, of whatever faith or ethnicity, and especially as a result of slanderous and unsubstantiated rumours; and that an elderly mother could be so publicly and indecently humiliated. What is also unacceptable is the utter disinterest (at best) and/or complicit and criminal negligence (at worst) with which the local security services conducted themselves, and the Menia Governor’s denial that these crimes occurred.

Egypt is at a formative stage of its contemporary history which requires a robust system of law and order that underpins an ethos of equal citizenship and accountability. Any such steps taken at the national level are severely hampered and undermined by these recurring failures at the local level.

Our prayers are with the families and community directly affected by these incidents, as well as with all those involved in the genuine work of transparent and sensitive healing that must be carried out to repair this now broken community, in a way that leads to a peaceful and mutually-respectful existence.’

*Ends*
  

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Press Release: Baroness Anelay meets with HG Bishop Angaelos at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre to discuss matters relating to Christians in the Middle East, Human Rights, and Freedom of Religion or Belief


5 May 2016

The Rt Hon. the Baroness Anelay of St Johns DBE, Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, was received by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, at The Coptic Centre in the UK. During the visit discussions took place on matters of vulnerable communities in the Middle East, human rights, freedom of religion or belief, and the necessity for potential collaboration between Her Majesty’s Government and Faith leaders in the UK.

After a tour of the Cathedral of Saint George with the Baroness, Bishop Angaelos said:

“It was a pleasure to welcome Baroness Anelay to our Centre and have an opportunity to discuss collaboration for the most vulnerable. I have appreciated the minister’s work since her appointment, and assured her that we would not only continue to assist with these faithful efforts in any way we can, but would be praying for her and all those who support this ongoing work.”

After the visit Baroness Anelay said:

“I was delighted to visit the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre and learn more about the Coptic Orthodox Church and British Coptic community, as well as His Grace’s role in bringing together Middle Eastern Christian leaders from different denominations. I greatly value these interactions with His Grace, and his continuous engagement with the FCO on our human rights work. Faith leaders provide a valuable perspective and play an important role in tackling a wide range of foreign policy challenges. I look forward to future collaboration with the Church in this regard.”


*Ends*           

 



Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Press Release from the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom following the departure of Sherif Habib

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Press Release from the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom following the departure of Sherif Habib

27 April 2016

During this Holy Week, our whole community is shocked and saddened by the news of the departure of one of our young men, Sherif Habib. His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, called personally to convey his condolences to Sherif’s family and the Coptic community in London. His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, accompanied by Father Thomas Ghobrial, made a pastoral visit to the family yesterday.

Speaking after his visit with Sherif’s parents, Bishop Angaelos said:

“The loss of any life brings sadness, but the loss of a young man who had just completed his studies and was embarking on the next stage of his life is especially tragic. We pray repose for Sherif and comfort for his family, who are understandably experiencing great pain at this time, as well as for his friends and wider community. We are also reminded during this Holy Week, and as we approach the Feast of the Resurrection, that our hope is in the Risen Lord, and so we pray that He comfort Sherif’s family and all who mourn this tragic loss.”

Their Excellencies the Egyptian Ambassador to the United Kingdom and the Consul-General in London have visited the family to express their condolences. Egyptian officials in London were initially contacted by a priest of one of our London parishes at the request of the family.

Due to the ongoing official investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service in London, there are no further details at this time.  

At this difficult time and in this period of mourning, press and media are asked to respect the privacy of the family.

*Ends*









Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos on the upcoming Genocide debate in the House of Commons

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Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on the upcoming Genocide debate in the House of Commons

19 April 2016

With the recent welcomed recognition by the European Parliament and the United States Congress and Administration of ‘acts of genocide’ against Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in Syria and Iraq, the upcoming House of Commons debate on this matter will be looked upon with anticipation by many.

As the issue of genocide is deliberated upon in light of the genuine suffering of vulnerable men, women and children, we pray wisdom upon all those taking part in the debate.

If the British Parliament recognises these violations as genocide, along with other parliamentary bodies around the world, this will allow an essential co-ordinated approach across the international community for the protection of the sanctity and dignity of God-given human life.

While appreciative of all that continues to be done around the world, including this upcoming debate, the solution at the heart of the issue is a realisation of the value of every life. This is why we not only pray for those who fall victim to these crimes, but for those who continue to carry them out, that there is a greater understanding of our shared humanity and the pain and loss that is caused to us all through the taking of any life.

*Ends*

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Comment by HG Bishop Angaelos on the emergence of revelations relating to the Archbishop of Canterbury

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Comment by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on the emergence of revelations relating to the Archbishop of Canterbury

9 April 2016

The emergence of revelations relating to our dear brother Archbishop Justin and his family remind us of the vulnerability of anyone who takes public office, and more so those who are called to public ministry. These revelations would have been startling and painful enough for any individual and his family to learn and process, but to have them revealed and discussed so publicly will need a very particular grace. Thankfully however, we know that this grace is in no short supply in the lives of Archbishop Justin and his family.

In his personal statement on the matter, Archbishop Justin writes:

‘I have had a life of great blessing and wonderful support, especially from Caroline and our children, as well as a great many wonderful friends and family. My own experience is typical of many people. To find that one's father is other than imagined is not unusual. To be the child of families with great difficulties in relationships, with substance abuse or other matters, is far too normal.  

This revelation has, of course, been a surprise, but in my life and in our marriage Caroline and I have had far worse. I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes. Even more importantly my role as Archbishop makes me constantly aware of the real and genuine pain and suffering of many around the world, which should be the main focus of our prayers.  

Although there are elements of sadness, and even tragedy in my father's (Gavin Welby’s) case, this is a story of redemption and hope from a place of tumultuous difficulty and near despair in several lives. It is a testimony to the grace and power of Christ to liberate and redeem us, grace and power which is offered to every human being.  

At the very outset of my inauguration service three years ago, Evangeline Kanagasooriam, a young member of the Canterbury Cathedral congregation, said: “We greet you in the name of Christ. Who are you, and why do you request entry?” To which I responded: “I am Justin, a servant of Jesus Christ, and I come as one seeking the grace of God to travel with you in His service together.” What has changed? Nothing!’

I know that it is unconventional to quote such a long passage from another’s statement, but I found the archbishop’s to be very moving indeed, and indicative of the peace, love, forgiveness and resolve that we are not only all called to, but all endowed with if we but allow God’s healing, reconciling and comforting presence in our lives. This is of course also indicative of the personable and ‘real’ character we have all come to know to be Justin Welby, who, I am confident, will have this experience further enrich his ministry of compassion.

We pray for Archbishop Justin and his family, and particularly his mother, as they deal with this challenging time, and for all those unknown to us who must go through similar experiences every day, but who may not be so supported. We also pray healing for every pain, reconciliation for every struggle, and hope for every apparently hopeless situation.

*Ends*


Friday, 1 April 2016

Press Release: HG Bishop Angaelos conferred the Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism by HG the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace days after receiving the Coventry Cross of Nails at Coventry Cathedral

HG Bishop Angaelos conferred the Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism by HG the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace days after receiving the Coventry Cross of Nails at Coventry Cathedral

1 April 2016

The Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism was conferred upon His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, on 31 March 2016 at Lambeth Palace. The Lambeth Cross has been the highest honour bestowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury since 1939 and is conferred to distinguished hierarchs who have rendered exceptional services to the cause of Christian unity.

Speaking directly to Bishop Angaelos in an interview after conferring him with the Lambeth Cross the Archbishop said:

“My encounter with Orthodoxy through you has been a really profound experience in my life. It has changed much of my understanding of what the Church is universally. I have never had that much engagement with Orthodoxy, and certainly not with Coptic Orthodoxy. I found a completely different understanding, a much deeper sense of being drawn into the Body of Christ, and this is a recognition of the importance of your role in presenting to the United Kingdom and to the Church that we belong to one another in Christ.”

Speaking of the effect of his encounter with Orthodoxy, Archbishop Justin went on to say:

[this] has been a major step forward in my own spiritual journey, and His Grace has been a major feature in that; and it is part of what he has done in England across many communities, including of course with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.”

In response to the Archbishop’s comments, Bishop Angaelos said:

“This has been a wonderful time for a great partnership. The fact that there is an opportunity to work with Your Grace, with the Church of England, and with the Anglican Communion worldwide to advocate for others is wonderful because it comes at a time at which we must stand together. Your Grace and the Church of England have been very vocal on these issues, along with, as you mentioned, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. It is time for us to speak collaboratively and powerfully. It is only by the world seeing us standing together and witnessing that what we have in common is more than what separates us, that it realises that we have common ground, especially for those who are not so privileged as we are to speak.”           

The ceremony was followed by evensong in the Archbishop’s Chapel and a reception in the Guard room, after which Bishop Angaelos said:

“I am honoured and humbled to receive the Lambeth Cross from His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury. I believe this is a crucial time for us to work and witness together as Churches, Christian leaders and Christians as a whole, to send a more positive and encouraging message of who we are and what we stand for, and to speak for those who struggle here in Britain, in the Middle East and around the world. We are very fortunate to have strong ecumenical ties in Britain, and a visible unity and collaboration that makes the Church relevant and its input effective, and for this we must all be extremely thankful.”

Going on to say:

“At a time of increasing challenge and darkness, when there appears to be no hope, and those who threaten us appear to be stronger, our hope and strength lies well and truly in our unity, in our shared vision, and in our commitment to do what we can, not only for ourselves but for the world around us.”

Photographs above by Martin R Williams
Earlier in the week, after having preached at the Easter Sunday Coventry Cathedral service at the invitation of the Bishop of Coventry, His Grace Bishop Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop Angaelos was also awarded the Coventry Cross of Nails in recognition of his work on reconciliation by the Dean of Coventry Cathedral, the Very Reverend John Witcombe. The Coventry Cross of Nails is recognised throughout the world as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. Although it has been awarded to hundreds of charities and organisations over many years, it is only rarely presented to individuals.

Commenting on the week, Bishop Angaelos said:

“Building bridges, forging relationships and engaging in partnership and collaboration is something I believe we must all be committed to on a daily basis. I am thankful to be surrounded by many good friends with whom I work so closely and am honoured to have received this recognition from not only the ‘Archbishop of Canterbury’, the ‘Bishop of Coventry’, and the ‘Dean of Coventry’ but from dear friends and brothers in a shared ministry and witness.”

These two awards were preceded by Bishop Angaelos being conferred the honour of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for ‘Services to International Religious Freedom’ by Her Majesty The Queen in 2015. These three awards represent three core components of His Grace’s ministry: Ecumenism, Reconciliation and Religious Freedom, alongside his pastoral and youth ministry. 


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