• Copts
  • July 9, 2007
  • 6 minutes read

Coptic Intellectuals Reject Pope Benedict’s New Document

Several Egyptian Coptic intellectuals expressed their dismay at the Vatican’s document that emphasizes the Declaration Dominus Iesus

News agencies reported that the Vatican will issue a document on Tuesday by the Belief and Religions Council, which was headed by Pope Benedict XVI before assuming his current post.
The document emphasizes the Declaration Dominus Iesus, which was released in 2000 and caused sensation in the Christian world, according to the news agencies.

The newspaper added that this declaration was intended to stand up to the notion that all Christian churches have the same amount of truth. It is known that Benedict XVI condemns this theory, as he belongs to a trend considering these churches to have only part of the truth. The newspaper pointed out that Benedict XVI is the same Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was head of the doctrine and faith council. The Declaration Dominus Iesus was issued in 2000 under his responsibility. It raised at the time a storm of severe reactions among various churches, especially the Protestant Church, which was considered by the declaration as just ’church groups’
Commenting on this attitude of Pope Benedict XVI and such a document, Coptic intellectual, Rafik Habib, told Ikhwanweb :
The Catholic Church in the Vatican is witnessing a number of decisions which are at odds with the Second Vatican Councilrs. These decisions started with Benedict Xvi ’s attack against the prophet of Islam, causing a huge uproar. This is been more illustrated by Vatican’s attitude towards other Christian sects. This is because the document issued by the Second Vatican Councilrs, held on 1966. they considered all other Christian sects a way for salvation and redemption. Pope Benedict Xvi says what was prevalent before the Vatican second councils, that the Catholic church is the Christ’s right, and that all other sects aren’t a way for salvation.”
Regarding Pope Benedict Xvi’s decision of reviving the ancient Latin Mass, a decision that was rejected in 1969, Rafik Habib said:” Benedict Xvi’s decision has a special direction. There is a cult inside the church he agrees that supports him. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have elected him or approved his views. Consequently, Benedict Xvi expresses views of a movement which is more conservative that pope John Paul II who was also a conservative popes inside the Catholic church. Therefore, the Catholic church is moving towards conservatism and traditionalism, and is reviving ancient views.”
Habib added “Personally speaking, I think no problem will emerge inside the Catholic Church at the present time. But this may raise some problems or opposition inside the Catholic Church. However, there is a trend inside the Catholic church that brought Benedict Xvi to the Holy See and wants to impose its view on the Vatican.”
Habib pointed out that the Pope Benedict Xvi’s attitude may worsen tensions among various Christian sects. It is true that the idea of unifying all Christian sects has been alive throughout Christian history. However, for Copts in Egypt specifically, the Orthodox church still rejects the Catholic church, and it rejects also Evangelical churches, and hasn’t declares that they are Christian sects and that they are a way to salvation. That is, it still adopts its previous attitude. The Catholic Church has changed in the 1960s with the Second Vatican Councils that recognized other Christians and considered Christian sects, as Christians an that they are a way to salvation.”
” I do not think that pope Benedict Xvi’s view will have any impact in Egypt. This because Egypt is a part of the context in which Christian sects reject each other, specially the Orthodox Church.”
For his part, Coptic intellectual, Sameh Fawzi, told Ikhwanweb, that :” Such a document of the Vatican poses a very serious threat as it may stoke doctrinal tensions.
“This is because each one of these differencing churches sees itself as the most right method in life. No church has claimed before that it is the only way to salvation while other churches are not. Consequently, this document poses a serious threat to the Christian fabric. The Vatican is a global Christian body. Thus, doctrinal tensions are expected to snowball among Christians themselves in many countries. This may lead to a deadlock in interfaith dialogue. “
What raises eyebrows is that while the Vatican is activating Islamic-Christian dialogue in the wake of the famous lecture of pope Benedict Xvi, it is heading at the same time for obstructing the dialogue between Christians themselves” added Fawzi.
Fawzi added ” The Catholics in Egypt are demanded to declare their attitude towards such a statement and this issue like what they did following the pope’s famous lecture. This is because Catholic Church in Egypt is affiliated to the Catholic Church in the Vatican and they are obliged to be committed to all the Vatican’s views. They should reply to this:” What is the meaning of what is issued by the pope of the Vatican?. And to declare their rejection or approval to it. It must be noted that the Egyptian Catholic church – and all churches in the region in general – are members in the Middle East Council of Churches. How will they be members with other churches in the council, and they see that they aren’t a way of salvation.
Sameh Fawzi said:” Pope Benedict Xvi wants, due to his education and work and due to many other reasons, to return the Interfaith dialogue to before the second Vatican councils in 1962. In his previous lecture, pope Benedict Xvi tried to restore the negative stereotype of the Other Muslim, a stereotype that the Vatican rejected. He wants, in this document, to activate the same negative logic towards the other in other doctrines. Thus, he wants to send Interfaith dialogue to before 1962, before the second Vatican Council, through which the Catholic church became more open to the world.”
Asked whether the Pope’s declaration will have a direct impact on Copts in Egypt, Sameh Fawzi said:” I do not think this will have any effect on the Copts in Egypt. This is because the Catholic church in Egypt and the Catholics account for a few rate and they don’t have any strong role in the Egyptian society. This declaration will have no popular effect. However, it will have an effect on the relations between various churches, and will spawn more factors for misunderstanding among them.”