By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)– The acting head of Egypt’s Coptic Catholic Church pledged Wednesday to pray that the country’s Islamic president-elect Mohammed Morsi will develop a democratic society that will respect rights of everyone, including minority Christians.
“We pray that the Lord gives you success in the search for … the development of a modern, democratic, civil state, a state that respects the rights and freedoms of all and guarantees security, peace and social justice,” Bishop Kyrillos William he wrote in an open letter to Morsi obtained by BosNewsLife.
The letter, which was published by the Catholic-leaning Aid to the Church in Need group, came after Morsi promised to be a leader of all Egyptians.
In televised remarks Sunday, June 24, Morsi said he wanted to be seen unifying all Egyptians, including Christians, adding that those who died while protesting more than a year ago will be remembered. “Their blood will not go in vain,” he said.
That is closely watched by minority Coptic Christians, who comprise roughly 10 percent of the country’s population. There has been concern among Christians about Morsi’s Islamic background as prominent representative of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Bishop William, made clear he and his 250,000 member Coptic Catholic Church gave him the benefit of the doubt.
The church leader told Morsi in his letter that they remain “confident that with the help of the Lord and with your wisdom, you will be able to work for the best interests of the nation and its people…”
The bishop took over duties from Cardinal Patriarch Antonios Naguib, who is reportedly incapacitated by a stroke last year.
He urged Egyptians to “forget their differences … and pull together with one heart for the good of the country … for Egypt needs the effort, experience, ideas and strength of all her children to bring about its renaissance.”
Bishop William’s comments echo those made this week by fellow Coptic Catholic Bishop Joannes Zakaria of Luxor who reportedly said that he was “reassured” by Morsi’s post-election address, especially its references to cooperation with Christians and other minorities.
Yet, at least some 100,000 Christians are believed to have fled the nation because of deadly Islamic attacks against churches and believers, according to Open Doors, a group investigating persecution.
Critical church leaders have also expressed concerns about the rise of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which was oppressed by former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, and which has been variously described as militant, intolerant and Islamist.