Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America
The Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America condemns the massacre of eight innocent Coptic Orthodox Christians in Nag Hammadi, Egypt following Christmas Eve liturgy on January 6, 2010. Witnesses reported that three gunmen opened fire on the Christians as they were exiting the church. In addition to the eight young Coptic Orthodox Christians who were killed, several others remain in critical condition.
The joy of Christmas, celebrated on January 7 according to the Coptic Orthodox Calendar, was extinguished by the mourning which filled the streets for a heartbreaking funeral procession for the victims on Christmas day. The youngest of the victims was only seventeen years old. The following day brought more destruction. Numerous homes and businesses were set ablaze leaving many homeless or without a livelihood.
This violence which took place on Christmas day in Egypt is yet another in a long series of incidents of violence, killing, looting, destruction and arson that have occurred in Egypt against Coptic Orthodox Christians. These extreme acts of brutality, which the Church has continually suffered throughout its history, have escalated in recent years.
His Grace Bishop David and the Reverend Priests of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America condemn the attacks on innocent Christians, express great concern for those in Nag Hammadi, send their condolences to the families who have lost loved ones in this horrific act, including the family of the lone security guard of the Church, who also lost his life, and call upon all people to pray for the safety of the Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt.
The Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, comprised of approximately 105 churches, has announced daily Divine Liturgies and a voluntary fast from January 13-15, 2010 (Wednesday - Friday).
Following this special fast, on Saturday, January 16, 2010, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM, His Grace Bishop David and the Clergy of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America will celebrate a Divine Liturgy in memory of the Nag Hammadi martyrs at St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church, located at 433 Riva Ave, East Brunswick, NJ 08816.
The names of the martyrs of Nag Hammadi will also be mentioned during each Divine Liturgy celebrated until the 40 Day Memorial, and the Church will continue to pray for the recovery of those who remain in critical condition.
In response to questions regarding public expression, the Church does not discourage anyone from exercising their rights, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. However, the Church reminds each person to conduct him or herself in a peaceful and Christian manner.
We pray for His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, all the Metropolitans and Bishops of the Church; that God may strengthen them. We also pray for the peace and safety of the land of Egypt; that God may grant the leaders the wisdom to protect the rights of all Egyptian citizens.