"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Saturday 31 August 2013


The Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Gregory III Laham has launched an appeal, urging: "We must listen to the Pope's appeal for peace … Syria needs stability”VATICAN INSIDER STAFFROME

 "We must listen to the Pope's appeal for peace in Syria. If western countries want to create true democracy then they must build it on reconciliation, through dialogue between Christians and Muslims, not with weapons. This attacked being planned by the United States is a criminal act, which will only reap more victims, in addition to the tens of thousands of these two years of war. This will destroy the Arab world's trust in the West," Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch of the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem of the Melkites told AsiaNews. His appeal comes “just a few hours after rumours of an imminent United States attack against Damascus. The intervention is supported by other countries: France, Great Britain, Turkey and the Arab League. The religious leader has sent out Pope Francis' August 25 appeal to all of Syria's parishes.” "The voice of Christians - said the Patriarch - is that of the Holy Father. At this time we must be pragmatic. Syria needs stability and an armed attack against the government really has no sense at all." "What or who,” Gregory III asks in his appeal to AsiaNews, “have led Syria to this thin red line, this point of no return? Who created this hell in which our people have been living for months?". "Every day - he explains - Islamic extremists from all over the world are pouring into Syria with the sole intent to kill and not one country has done anything to stop them, even the U.S. has decided to send in more weapons." The prelate stresses that the planned U.S. attack will affect the Syrian population above all and is no less serious than the use of chemical weapons.” “According to the Patriarch, Western countries continue to support a non existent opposition, which has no authority on the ground in Syria."All preparation for the Geneva 2 Conference - he told AsiaNews - has been stopped. The word dialogue is now forgotten. For months the Western countries have wasted time in discussions, while people were dying under Assad's bombs and attacks by Islamic al-Qaeda extremists." “Gregory III warns that a possible victory of the Islamists will give birth to a country divided into small enclaves, which will force Christians into a ghetto. "Our community dwindles every day. Young people are fleeing, families leave their homes and villages." For the prelate, "the disappearance of the Christians is a danger not only for Syria, but for all of Europe." "Our presence - he says - is the essential condition for a moderate Islam, which exists thanks to the Christians. If we leave, there can be no democracy in Syria. This is supported also by the Muslims themselves, who fear the Islamist's madness. Many say that they cannot live where there are no Christians.

Tuesday 27 August 2013


I hope you like these posts and their variety.   They belong to a Google website and thus have the same format as this blog. In fact, this is directly copied from the website.  Each month, one or two subjects will be chosen, and posts will be collected in the website "Ecclesial Peace", and then published in links in "Monks and Mermaids".   Thus, in September, we will have a number of posts on "Icons" and then, towards the end of the month, there will be a series on angels.   From time to time, new posts will be added to the categories already published.   For instance, under "Our Lady", we have not yet had a post on "Our Lady of Guardalupe" because I hope to go there and will publish my post afterwards.



to access all related posts  click onLITURGY‎ 


to access all related posts, please click on :ST GREGORY PALAMAS ON THE HOLY SPIRIT




For all posts related to THE TRANSFIGURATION, please click on THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION by Fr Jean Corbon OP‎ >


Sunday 25 August 2013


Twenty-First Sunday of the Year                                 Belmont Abbey, 25th August 2013
Homily by Dom Alex Echeandía
 “Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem.” This is how this passage of the Gospel written by Luke begins. St Luke, here and in the Acts of the Apostles, makes journeying his basic theme. Jesus does not begin his ministry just seated on a chair, waiting for people to come and listen to what he has to say. He is always moving, looking for his friends, and towards his final earthly destiny: Jerusalem. Those who want to listen to what he has to say must follow him in his journey, they must travel. They need to move forward in order to experience what He offers. Jerusalem meant death and Resurrection. Thus the Master is bringing his followers to Jerusalem, the place where they will see His glory. They are moving with Jesus and towards Jesus.
Not just in Luke, but the whole Scriptures relate to movement, from Egypt to the Promised Land; the Chosen People sent away into exile and then back to Jerusalem; the Holy Family, Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus, needed to escape into Egypt and then return. In order to follow Jesus and to be saved, we must move: we cannot simply stand still.
In the first reading Isaiah shows us how the Lord comes to gather the nation of every language in order to be witnesses of His glory in Jerusalem. They are invited to move up to find the Living God. To live is to move, from a limited understanding of this earthly world to a transformed and greater world.
This image of moving tells us about ourselves. We cannot just simply be satisfied by what we have done till now. We cannot simply say, I’ve got it, I have done enough. The content of the Scriptures always shakes us out of our comfortable life. God may possess us but we don’t possess God. We cannot count our good deeds and say: “It is enough!” It is what Jesus let’s us know in the Gospel today. We could be surprised by God and hear what people in the story heard: “I do not know where you come from.” They thought they had enough: “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets.” Jesus is challenging us not to imagine that just because we have contact with God by coming to Mass or reading the Scriptures and other ways of meeting the Lord, we are assured of a place in the kingdom. The thing that matters is if we still thirst for God. We cannot go to a banquet if we are already filled and self- satisfied. It is the hungry who go to the banquet.
The problem is that those who think that have the right to be there could well be in a state of shock at the end. Perhaps we don’t possess what it takes to go through the narrow door. People probably think that they have already got the club membership without bothering to apply. Jesus says elsewhere in the Scripture, it is not enough to cry, “Lord, Lord” – we need instead to do the will of the Father. God is calling us to hunger and thirst for him, to desire to see his glory.
The disciples asked Jesus: will there only be a few saved? To hear what they were discussing, one may come to the idea of playing bingo or poker, because nobody is certain of what is going to happen to us. Jesus talks about the first being last and last being first. He seems to be warning us about how misguided our expectations can be. The difference here is that the One who leads the play, so to speak, is not dishonest to us. He is just and repays what we deserve. If we choose other goals, these goals will speak to us then. In spite of our failures and choices, we can also rely on His mercy because His mercy is infinite; however, we cannot stop trying to advance: we cannot simply rest on our laurels and mark time. We just cannot please ourselves with what we think is good and sufficient. We cannot rely on our own merits because what we will finally get is an image full of ourselves. That is the last thing God wants: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
So, to follow Jesus, his teaching and example implies sacrifice, to the point of losing your own life; not just once or twice, but always.  The Lord will tell us how to live in the particular circumstances of our lives because He loves us. As the letter to the Hebrews tells us today, “The Lord trains the ones that He loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons.” Suffering is part of that training. We as sons and daughters of God are called to see God’s glory, to move towards him, to hunger and thirst for Him. Doing so, we can come into God’s presence as needy people who know they have nothing to offer but everything to receive. The good news today is that God’s door, though narrow, is still open. The real problem is our own door that does not allow Him to enter. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me.” Let us allow the Lord to enter into our lives today and let us eat together in this Eucharist.

Thursday 22 August 2013


We have all been given a unique calling as Christians. Sometimes we lose sight of this calling and at other times we may never have been properly introduced to it. For Elder Sophrony our calling as Christians means," believing in the resurrection of the dead; hoping for the 'adoption of sons' by the heavenly Father; receiving the divine image of being; becoming through the gift of the Father's love what he Himself is by His nature-a God". In all that we find in his profession we discover that our God desires for us something very special, which is to become what He is. With churches just about on every corner in our cities it's hard to see in our culture that we have accepted the gift that our God is offering us. Rather, it seems that evil in our churches is on the rise. With my own ears I have heard Christians justify abortions, claim that immoral acts are natural, and many have even tried to use the scriptures to support positions that are contrary to living a life in God. Elder Sophrony was no stranger to this in his time and claimed, "Christianity in its true dimensions has never yet been properly grasped by the great mass of people". It would seem that the understanding that we are called to be what God is has been lost. Sometimes we who think of ourselves as 'spiritual' need to be on our guard. For we are not strangers to the evil that we often see taking place in our churches. The scriptures teach us that there is no sin that we don't have in common with others (cor.10:13).In some ways we to are responsible for evils that we see because we to have failed in many ways to become what God is. Knowing our common weakness that we share with others the Lord instructs us not to Judge but says to clean up our own lives in order to help those around us see God (Matt.7:5).Elder Sophrony would say that this clean up takes " maximum" or ongoing effort and only then will it be given us to discover the mystery of becoming what God is. The demands that God puts before us might seem discouraging because many of us constantly fall short. I know in my own life it's been a series of ongoing failures but I have learned not to give up. The scriptures are clear that this work of becoming what God is comes from what God is doing in us (Philp1:6). No matter how many times we fail it's in our return to Him that we find God ever the more pleased in our commitment. When it comes to our return Elder Sophrony speaks of it as an "ever new creation". Speaking of those times that we return to God the elder would say, "The mind is filled with wonder. 'Being, how is it possible?' And we echo the Psalmist's praise of the wondrous works of the Lord. We apprehend the meaning of Christ's words, I am come that [men] might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.' More abundantly'--this indeed so". God never gives up on his people and is always offering them a chance at renewal and the abundance of his divine life. Looking into the Elder's teachings there really is one way that we can expect renewal in our churches. Only by learning to live as 'gods'. Through the gospel our Lord gives us an ongoing opportunity to share his divine nature. Our own personal failures or circumstances can never separate us from access to the divine life. Our God is always making us a way to escape our sinful condition (1cor. 10:13) and holds nothing back from us. We need only to cry out Lord Jesus Christ son of God have mercy on me a sinner and discover that this action becomes as the Elder would say, an" infinite creation". There is so little time that we spend here and God has so much to offer. Each day in itself holds "infinite" possibilities for each of us. There is more that God wishes to offer you so you should except great things for your life. In this expectation know that God wishes your brothers and sisters in Christ to know their value as well. It is through our own response to God that we can expect change not only in our lives but from everyone around us. We were all destined to become what God is by grace and it is only natural for those that see this life in us to desire it for themselves, which is the only way of spiritual renewal. (Note: for those who don't understand the Byzantine tradition on divinization. Man does not become another person of the Trinity. He participates in what God is making him a god by grace and never by nature.We are not born eternal beings but become so by participation in what God is. As it says in 2peter 1:4 "you may become partakers of the divine nature") The teaching from Elder Sophrony were from his book On Prayer (click)


Vatican City, August 19, 2013 (Zenit.org) 

Here is the translation of Pope Francis’ address before Angelus on Sunday, 8/18/13, to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, Hello!

In today’s liturgy we listen to these words from the Letter to the Hebrews: “Persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfector of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). This is a statement that we should highlight in a special way in this Year of Faith. We too, during this whole year of faith, should keep our gaze fixed on Jesus because faith, which is our “yes” to the filial relation to God, comes from him, it comes from Jesus. He is the only mediator of this relationship between us and our Father who is in heaven. Jesus is the Son and we are sons in him.

But the Word of God this Sunday contains words of Jesus that put us into crisis and need to be explained so that they are not misunderstood. Jesus says to the disciples: “Did you think that I came to bring peace to the earth? No, I say to you, I came to bring division” (Luke 12:51). What does this mean? It means that the faith is not something decorative, ornamental; living the faith is not decorating life with a little religion, as if life were a pie and faith like the whipped cream that you use to decorate it. No, faith is not this. Faith entails choosing God as the basic criterion for life, and God is not empty, God is not neutral, God is always positive, God is love, and love is positive! After Jesus has come into the world we cannot act as if we do not know God, as if God were something abstract, empty, a mere name; no, God has a particular face, he has a name: God is mercy, God is fidelity, he is life that is given to all of us. This is why Jesus says: I came to bring division; not that Jesus wishes to divide men against each other. On the contrary, Jesus is our peace, he is our reconciliation! But this peace is not the peace of a grave, it is not neutrality, Jesus does not bring neutrality, this peace is not a compromise at all costs. Following Jesus means rejecting evil, egoism, and choosing the good, truth, justice, even when that requires sacrifice and renunciation of our own interests. And, yes, this divides; we know that it divides us even from the closest bonds. But remember: it is not Jesus who divides! He posits the criterion: living for ourselves or living for God and for others; be served or serve; obey ourselves or obey God. This is the way that Jesus is a “sign of contradiction” (Luke 2:34).

So, these words of the Gospel do not authorize in any way the use of force in spreading the faith. It is precisely the contrary: the true force of the Christian is the force of truth and of love, which means rejecting all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible! Faith and violence are incompatible! But faith and strength go together. The Christian is not violent, but he strong. And with what strength? That of meekness, the force of meekness, the force of love.

Dear friends, even among Jesus’ relatives there were some that at a certain point did not share his way of living and preaching, which the Gospel tells us (cf. Mark 3:20-21). But his Mother always followed him faithfully, keeping the gaze of her heart fixed upon Jesus, the Son of the Most High, and his mystery. And in the end, thanks to Mary’s faith, Jesus’ relatives will become part of the first Christian community (cf. Acts 1:14). Let us ask Mary to help us too to keep our gaze carefully fixed upon Jesus and to follow him always, even when it costs us.

I wish everyone a good Sunday, and a good lunch! Goodbye!

* * *

Wednesday 21 August 2013


Never has a pope been so clear and courageous in unveiling the roots of violence in Islam, before Benedict XVI. And not afterward, either. Two obligatory rereadings, to decipher the Egyptian crisis 

ROME, August 20, 2013 – In a few days many dozens of churches, convents, homes of Christians in Egypt have been attacked or burned. A tragedy within the tragedy, after the coup d'état that has plunged the nation of the Nile into a civil war with hundreds if not thousands of victims.

In covering the news of the numerous appeals for the cessation of violence, “L'Osservatore Romano” of August 18 did not, however, succeed in listing among these invocations even one from the Muslim world.

This public silence of the Islamic spiritual guides does not come as a surprise. It accompanies almost every act of political violence that sees Muslims in action, in one or another region of the globe.

It is a silence that is not explained by calculations of timeliness alone, or by the fear of retaliation. Nor by the fact alone that today in Egypt the greatest clash is between opposing Muslim factions, both of them determined to assert with force the precepts of Islam: because it is not only the Muslim Brotherhood of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi that has a conception of the political struggle as jihad, as holy war, but this is also held by its adversary, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, the general placed at the head of the armed forces by Morsi himself because he was believed to be the most faithful Islamist of all.

In order to understand the ultimate root of the silence of Muslim spiritual leaders in the face of the explosion of violence of Islamic inspiration, one need do just one simple thing. It is enough to reread the initial part of the lecture given by Benedict XVI on September 12, 2006 in the aula magna of the University of Regensburg.

The aggressive actions with which Muslim men and groups reacted to this lecture were the tragic confirmation of the correctness of the theses presented by pope Joseph Ratzinger. According to whom violence associated with faith is the inevitable product of the fragile connection between faith and reason in Muslim doctrine.

No pope before Benedict XVI had ever had the clarity of vision and courage to express such a blunt judgment of Islam, nor to formulate with such rigor the difference between Islam and Christianity.

Within the Catholic Church Benedict XVI was highly criticized for having dared so much. He was accused of having destroyed the “dialogue” with the Muslim world.

In reality, just two months after Regensburg pope Ratzinger recollected himself in silent prayer in the Blue Mosque of Istanbul. And he was able to perform this gesture - otherwise incomprehensible - precisely because he had stated clearly what was his thought in this regard.

And it was precisely from the lecture in Regensburg that there came to life that sprout of Islamic-Christian dialogue that found its expression in the “letter of the 138 scholars” written to the pope by Muslim representatives of various orientation.

Not only that. Also in that autumn of 2006, during his voyage to Turkey, Benedict XVI said clearly to the Muslim world that it was facing the same challenge that Christianity had already faced and overcome positively: that of “welcoming the true achievements of the Enlightenment, human rights and especially the freedom of faith and its exercise.”

Here as well, no pope had ever gone so far before Benedict XVI. Nor afterward. Even today.

To the civil war that is inflaming Egypt Pope Francis dedicated these words, after the Angelus on the feast of the Assumption:

"Unfortunately sorrowful news is arriving from Egypt. I wish to pledge my prayers for all of the victims and their relatives, for the wounded and for those who suffer. Let us pray together for peace, dialogue, reconciliation in that dear land and in the whole world.”

And three days later, at the Angelus of Sunday, August 18, he may have alluded to it: 

"The Gospel does not authorize in any way the use of force to spread the faith. It is precisely the contrary: the true force of the Christian is the force of truth and love, which involves renouncing all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible.”

But let us return to the Ratzinger of 2006 and to those memorable words of his on Islam, which are also decisive for understanding the Egyptian tragedy.

The following is what he said in the lecture of Regensburg on September 12 and how he commented - after he had returned to Rome - on his voyage to Turkey that same autumn.



[…] I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. […]

In the seventh conversation ("dialexis"  - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to some of the experts, this is probably one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war.

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably ('sun logo') is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God.

Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the logos". This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, "sun logo", with logos. Logos means both reason and word - a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God […]


[…] In a dialogue to be intensified with Islam, we must bear in mind the fact that the Muslim world today is finding itself faced with an urgent task. This task is very similar to the one that has been imposed upon Christians since the Enlightenment, and to which the Second Vatican Council, as the fruit of long and difficult research, found real solutions for the Catholic Church. […]

On the one hand, one must counter a dictatorship of positivist reason that excludes God from the life of the community and from public organizations, thereby depriving man of his specific criteria of judgment.

On the other, one must welcome the true conquests of the Enlightenment, human rights and especially the freedom of faith and its practice, and recognize these also as being essential elements for the authenticity of religion. As in the Christian community, where there has been a long search to find the correct position of faith in relation to such beliefs - a search that will certainly never be concluded once and for all -, so also the Islamic world with its own tradition faces the immense task of finding the appropriate solutions in this regard.

The content of the dialogue between Christians and Muslims will be at this time especially one of meeting each other in this commitment to find the right solutions. We Christians feel in solidarity with all those who, precisely on the basis of their religious conviction as Muslims, work to oppose violence and for the synergy between faith and reason, between religion and freedom. […]

Egypt: Islamists Hit Coptic Christian Churches, Torch Franciscan School
By HAMZA HENDAWI 08/17/13 08:13 PM ET EDT AP
source: Huffington Post

CAIRO — After torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like "prisoners of war" before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.

In the four days since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt's ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority. The campaign of intimidation appears to be a warning to Christians outside Cairo to stand down from political activism.

Christians have long suffered from discrimination and violence in Muslim majority Egypt, where they make up 10 percent of the population of 90 million. Attacks increased after the Islamists rose to power in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak from power, emboldening extremists. But Christians have come further under fire since President Mohammed Morsi was ousted on July 3, sparking a wave of Islamist anger led by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Nearly 40 churches have been looted and torched, while 23 others have been attacked and heavily damaged since Wednesday, when chaos erupted after Egypt's military-backed interim administration moved in to clear two camps packed with protesters calling for Morsi's reinstatement, killing scores of protesters and sparking deadly clashes nationwide.

One of the world's oldest Christian communities has generally kept a low-profile, but has become more politically active since Mubarak was ousted and Christians sought to ensure fair treatment in the aftermath.

Many Morsi supporters say Christians played a disproportionately large role in the days of mass rallies, with millions demanding that he step down ahead of the coup.

Despite the violence, Egypt's Coptic Christian church renewed its commitment to the new political order Friday, saying in a statement that it stood by the army and the police in their fight against "the armed violent groups and black terrorism."

While the Christians of Egypt have endured attacks by extremists, they have drawn closer to moderate Muslims in some places, in a rare show of solidarity.

Hundreds from both communities thronged two monasteries in the province of Bani Suef south of Cairo to thwart what they had expected to be imminent attacks on Saturday, local activist Girgis Waheeb said. Activists reported similar examples elsewhere in regions south of Cairo, but not enough to provide effective protection of churches and monasteries.

Waheeb, other activists and victims of the latest wave of attacks blame the police as much as hard-line Islamists for what happened. The attacks, they said, coincided with assaults on police stations in provinces like Bani Suef and Minya, leaving most police pinned down to defend their stations or reinforcing others rather than rushing to the rescue of Christians under attack.

Another Christian activist, Ezzat Ibrahim of Minya, a province also south of Cairo where Christians make up around 35 percent of the population, said police have melted away from seven of the region's nine districts, leaving the extremists to act with near impunity.

Two Christians have been killed since Wednesday, including a taxi driver who strayed into a protest by Morsi supporters in Alexandria and another man who was shot to death by Islamists in the southern province of Sohag, according to security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

The attacks served as a reminder that Islamists, while on the defensive in Cairo, maintain influence and the ability to stage violence in provincial strongholds with a large minority of Christians.

Gamaa Islamiya, the hard-line Islamist group that wields considerable influence in provinces south of Cairo, denied any link to the attacks. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has led the defiant protest against Morsi's ouster, has condemned the attacks, spokesman Mourad Ali said.

Sister Manal is the principal of the Franciscan school in Bani Suef. She was having breakfast with two visiting nuns when news broke of the clearance of the two sit-in camps by police, killing hundreds. In an ordeal that lasted about six hours, she, sisters Abeer and Demiana and a handful of school employees saw a mob break into the school through the wall and windows, loot its contents, knock off the cross on the street gate and replace it with a black banner resembling the flag of al-Qaida.

By the time the Islamists ordered them out, fire was raging at every corner of the 115-year-old main building and two recent additions. Money saved for a new school was gone, said Manal, and every computer, projector, desk and chair was hauled away. Frantic SOS calls to the police, including senior officers with children at the school, produced promises of quick response but no one came.

The Islamists gave her just enough time to grab some clothes.

In an hourlong telephone interview with The Associated Press, Manal, 47, recounted her ordeal while trapped at the school with others as the fire raged in the ground floor and a battle between police and Islamists went on out on the street. At times she was overwhelmed by the toxic fumes from the fire in the library or the whiffs of tears gas used by the police outside.

Sister Manal recalled being told a week earlier by the policeman father of one pupil that her school was targeted by hard-line Islamists convinced that it was giving an inappropriate education to Muslim children. She paid no attention, comfortable in the belief that a school that had an equal number of Muslim and Christian pupils could not be targeted by Muslim extremists. She was wrong.

The school has a high-profile location. It is across the road from the main railway station and adjacent to a busy bus terminal that in recent weeks attracted a large number of Islamists headed to Cairo to join the larger of two sit-in camps by Morsi's supporters. The area of the school is also in one of Bani Suef's main bastions of Islamists from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and ultraconservative Salafis.

"We are nuns. We rely on God and the angels to protect us," she said. "At the end, they paraded us like prisoners of war and hurled abuse at us as they led us from one alley to another without telling us where they were taking us," she said. A Muslim woman who once taught at the school spotted Manal and the two other nuns as they walked past her home, attracting a crowd of curious onlookers.

"I remembered her, her name is Saadiyah. She offered to take us in and said she can protect us since her son-in-law was a policeman. We accepted her offer," she said. Two Christian women employed by the school, siblings Wardah and Bedour, had to fight their way out of the mob, while groped, hit and insulted by the extremists. "I looked at that and it was very nasty," said Manal.

The incident at the Franciscan school was repeated at Minya where a Catholic school was razed to the ground by an arson attack and a Christian orphanage was also torched.

"I am terrified and unable to focus," said Boulos Fahmy, the pastor of a Catholic church a short distance away from Manal's school. "I am expecting an attack on my church any time now," he said Saturday.

Bishoy Alfons Naguib, a 33-year-old businessman from Minya, has a similarly harrowing story.

His home supplies store on a main commercial street in the provincial capital, also called Minya, was torched this week and the flames consumed everything inside.

"A neighbor called me and said the store was on fire. When I arrived, three extremists with knifes approached me menacingly when they realized I was the owner," recounted Naguib. His father and brother pleaded with the men to spare him. Luckily, he said, someone shouted that a Christian boy was filming the proceedings using his cell phone, so the crowd rushed toward the boy shouting "Nusrani, Nusrani," the Quranic word for Christians which has become a derogatory way of referring to them in today's Egypt.

Naguib ran up a nearby building where he has an apartment and locked himself in. After waiting there for a while, he left the apartment, ran up to the roof and jumped to the next door building, then exited at a safe distance from the crowd.

"On our Mustafa Fahmy street, the Islamists had earlier painted a red X on Muslim stores and a black X on Christian stores," he said. "You can be sure that the ones with a red X are intact."

In Fayoum, an oasis province southwest of Cairo, Islamists looted and torched five churches, according to Bishop Ibram, the local head of the Coptic Orthodox church, by far the largest of Egypt's Christian denominations. He said he had instructed Christians and clerics alike not to try to resist the mobs of Islamists, fearing any loss of life.

"The looters were so diligent that they came back to one of the five churches they had ransacked to see if they can get more," he told the AP. "They were loading our chairs and benches on trucks and when they had no space for more, they destroyed them."

Coptic Churches Burn across Egypt whilst the World Turns a Blind Eye
Posted by Sarah on August 16th, 2013

The Australian Coptic Movement Association (“ACM”) is greatly alarmed by the rapid turn of events affecting Coptic Christians in Egypt over the past 24 hours.

Only 2 days ago, we released the following Press Release, calling for action in response to the incitement and violence targeting Copts: http://www.auscma.com/2013/08/13/press-release-australian-coptic-rights-group-calls-for-action-on-christian-persecution-in-egypt/

Whilst the Western media is focused on the military raids and the loss of life that has ensued, mainstream news outlets have largely ignored the widespread coordinated attacks on Coptic Christians throughout Egypt.  Coptic churches, monasteries, schools and Coptic-owned properties have been destroyed in violent rampages by Islamists across the country since the military crackdown.  Below is a list of the number and location of Churches that have been looted and burnt across Egypt.  According to this list, 45 Christian Churches and a further 11 Christian institutions have been burnt and damaged.  At the time of publishing this statement, reports of further attacks have been received.  Indeed, it is difficult to keep track of the number attacks over the last 24 hours – the level of abuse of Egypt’s Christians is unprecedented.

The senseless loss of life in Egypt is against the spirit of the popular “Tamarod” Revolution that occurred on 30 June 2013.  However, the ACM rejects the notion that all Muslim Brotherhood supporters are “peaceful”.  For several weeks now, pro-Morsi supporters and MB leaders have been inciting hatred and violence against Egypt’s Coptic Christians.  Copts are being used as scapegoats by the MB for the ousting of former President Morsi.

Western leaders have failed to take the dire issue facing Copts seriously and seem to be more interested in protecting the rights of those who persecute Christians.

The ACM repeats its call for an urgent investigation into these attacks and the immediate implementation by the Egyptian interim Government of adequate measures to safeguard the safety and security of Egypt’s Christian minority.

In the meantime we are collecting donations to assist those who have had their properties destroyed in Egypt. We are looking to assist small business owners and shop keepers as well as those who have been left homeless. http://www.auscma.com/donate-here/

List of Churches attacked, as of 14 August 2013

[Source: http://nilerevolt.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/1198/]


Father Maximus Church

St George Church | Burned |

Good Shepherds Monastery |  Nuns attacked
Angel Michael Church | Surrounded
St George Coptic Orthodox Church |
Al-Eslah Church| Burned |
Adventist Church | Pastor and his wife kidnapped |
St Therese Church |
Apostles Church | Burning |
Holy Revival Church | Burning |
Beni Suef

The Nuns School |
St George Church | al-Wasta

St Fatima Basilica | Heliopolis | Attempted Attack

St Mary Church | El Nazlah |
St Damiana Church | Robbed and burned
Amir Tawadros (St Theodore) Church
Evangelical Church | al-Zorby Village | Looting and destruction
Church of Joseph | Burned |
Franciscan School | Burned |

Diocese of St Paul | Burned |

Father Antonios
Atfeeh Bishopric

Church of the Virgin Mary and Father Abram | Delga, Deir Mawas |
St Mina Church | Abu Hilal Kebly, Beni Hilal |
Baptist Church | Beni Mazar |
Deir Mawas Bishopric
Delga Church | Attacked (Previously attacked with fire)
The Jesuit Fathers Church | Abu Hilal district
St Mark Church | Abu Hilal district
St Joseph Nunnery |
Amir Tadros Church |
Evangelical Church |
Anba Moussa al-Aswad Church
Apostles Church |

St Mary’s Church | Attempted Burning

St George Church |
St Damiana | Attacked and burned |
Virgin Mary | Attacked and burned |
St Mark Church & Community Center
Anba Abram Church | Destroyed and burned |

St Saviours Anglican Church |
Franciscan Church and School | Street 23 | Burned |
Holy Shepherd Monastery and Hospital |
Good Shepherd Church (molotov cocktail thrown)- Relationship with Holy Shepherd Monastery unknown.
Greek Orthodox Church |
Christian Institutions

House of Father Angelos (Pastor of Church of the Virgin Mary and Father Abram) | Delga, Minya | Burned |
Properties and Markets of Copts | al-Gomhorreya Street, Assiut
Seventeen Coptic homes | Delga, Minya | Burned |
YMCA | Minya| Burned |
Coptic Homes | Qulta Street, Assiut | Attacked
Offices of the Evangelical Foundation & Oum al-Nour | Minya
Coptic-owned shops, pharmacy, and hotels | Karnak and Cleopatra Streets, Luxor | Attacked and Looted
Dahabeya Nile Boat | Minya| Church-owned |
Bible Society bookshop | Cairo | Burned |
Bible Society | Fayoum |
Bible Society | al-Gomohoreya Street, Assiut |

- See more at: http://www.auscma.com/2013/08/16/coptic-churches-burn-across-egypt-whilst-the-world-turns-a-blind-eye/#sthash.o7guyJd8.dpuf 

Coptic Kristallnacht
The Muslim Brotherhood is terrorizing Egypt, and Christians are a particular target.

my source: The National Review Online
The millions of Egyptians, Muslim and Christian, who took to the street in peaceful protest over a month ago understood well the consequences of crossing the Muslim Brotherhood. “So much violence, so many innocent people killed,” says Mina Thabet, an Egyptian human-rights activist who lives in Cairo. “The [Mohamed] Morsi supporters are armed and killing people in the streets. They are targeting Copts. But if the Muslim Brotherhood had remained in power, we would have the same violence and much more because he would use the institutions of the country, the army and the police, against us.”

The Muslim Brotherhood is using violence to terrorize Egypt, claiming the lives of hundreds of Egyptians, many of whom were Christian. In the violence that erupted on Wednesday and Thursday, 32 churches were destroyed and 19 severely damaged, according to the Maspero Youth Union, a Christian human-rights organization. Scores of Christian homes, businesses, and automobiles were destroyed — all of this in roughly 24 hours.

And yet, bizarrely, Western media have largely portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as the victims of violence. Egypt’s moderates are not persuaded that the brutality of the Muslim Brotherhood’s partisan paramilitaries is a sign that the Morsi regime should have remained in power. “The violence would come one way or the other,” Thabet observes. “No, I have no regrets.”
Many Egyptians believe that Morsi was on a path to radicalize Egypt’s government, judiciary, and military, and that if the Muslim Brotherhood had not been stopped, it might have been decades before the Islamist regime was dislodged. This has forced secular-leaning Egyptians to accept the lesser of two evils, martial law.

“Even the military rule is better than Muslim Brotherhood rule because the Muslim Brotherhood is against humanity itself,” says Thabet. That the most secular, liberal-minded Egyptians prefer a military dictatorship to the Muslim Brotherhood is telling, though it must be added that they hope it is temporary.

The military has been slow to respond to civilians’ desperate pleas for help. Even before this week’s violence, the Egyptian government was unable — or, perhaps more accurate, unwilling — to take basic steps to protect Egypt’s Christians or their churches, which are a particular target of the Muslim Brotherhood’s attacks. Still, Copts have no question which is the lesser of two evils.

They also have a strong sense of betrayal by the West and America. Having struck a blow for freedom at considerable personal cost and in the face of significant odds, the millions of Egyptians who took part in the June 30 Revolution are confounded by the Western reaction. “I don’t know why the American media did this. It is terrible,” said Thabet. One liberal American missionary who has lived in Egypt for several decades was irate in an e-mail message. “Christians here are getting hit hard. . . . I am thoroughly [upset] at the hypocrisy of the EU and the U.S. What whores we have running the world. I can only say worse things about western news coverage in general.”

They are angry that the peaceful, nonviolent protests, which set in motion events that led to the removal of Morsi, have been largely condemned in the West, while the Muslim Brotherhood, perpetrators of heinous acts of violence, have been portrayed as victims. “The Muslim Brotherhood is armed,” says Thabet. “We are not armed.” The violence of recent days seems to confirm that the Muslim Brotherhood was bent on violence all along and was not an organization that, as Robert Kagan recently asserted, “renounced violence and terrorism years ago.” In the aftermath of this week’s atrocities, Mr. Kagan ought to be force-fed his words.

In 2011, Christians had been reluctant to see Hosni Mubarak removed. This prompted claims among the many 2011 revolutionaries that Christians were not invested in reform. In 2013, Christians stood with the rest of Egypt’s revolutionaries in a united front numbering upward of 20 to 30 million. “Copts had a big role in this revolution, in the street like everyone else,” says Thabet. “Not like last time, when they say we were not there. The Christians fasted with the Muslims during Ramadan. It was very good. It brought unity.”

The 2013 revolution had broader popular and institutional support, including from the military, the police, the judiciary, the Muslim clerics of Al Azhar Mosque, and the Coptic Orthodox Church. More to the point, the 2013 revolution was peaceful. The Muslim Brotherhood took to the streets in the revolution’s aftermath and inflicted violence, bloodshed, and terror on their countrymen. Christians have paid most heavily. Even before this week’s attacks, systematic violence against Egypt’s Christian community was escalating (a priest was murdered; a ten-year-old Coptic girl was shot and killed; a businessman was beheaded). Now scores of Christian homes, businesses, and churches have been destroyed.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s systematic and coordinated attacks against Christians in Egypt are reminiscent of Kristallnacht in Germany in 1938, when Nazi paramilitaries systematically vandalized Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues and murdered scores of Jews in a disturbing foreshadowing of the fate of European Jews over the next few years. It is no accident that many Jews, including Barry Rubin and Jeffrey Goldberg, have been quick to raise the alarums over the persecution of Christians: They recognize the dangerous signs. “They have hatred in their hearts,” says Thabet of the Brotherhood, echoing observations commonly made of the National Socialists in 20th-century Germany.

When the Nazis sensed that the war was unwinnable, they put all of their organizational energies into the “final solution.” Though most Jews were defenseless non-combatants, the Nazis felt that they should not be left behind to stand over the grave of National Socialism. One senses that same hatred and desperation as the Muslim Brothers respond to the military’s crackdown by attacking defenseless Christians. We may be thankful that the Muslim Brothers lack the organizational skill of the Nazis, but it appears they lack none of their hate.

Europe’s Jews did not have the good fortune to see their oppressors removed shortly after their rise to power — though such opportunities did exist. Then, as now, only token condemnations were uttered by Western governments as the fascists consolidated power. Western governments were then, as now, profoundly wrong.

“You have fought to get democracy as you now have it,” says Thabet. “We are fighting for our own democracy. That is what you are seeing now.” If freedom and stability are restored to Egypt, it will be despite, not because of, the West.

— Andrew Doran served on the executive secretariat of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO at the U.S. Department of State. His views are his own.

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