Acknowledging their “fraternal closeness” to Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and giving “a special thought” to the Coptic Catholics suffering during the violence in Egypt, the Vatican Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches also expressed that “dialogue and reconciliation” is the only way to restore peace in that country.
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, according to Vatican Radio, appealed Thursday for an end to the violence in Egypt. Sandri stated that his Congregation is “following, with great concern, the terrible situation,” and he shares in Pope Francis’s prayers for the victims and those who continue to suffer the consequences of the conflict.
Vatican Radio reported that Sandri wrote in the Thursday edition of L’Osservatore Romano that he hoped Egypt would seek “dialogue and reconciliation that will lead to restoring civil peace, resuming social life, and reconstructing the areas affected by the events.”
Since the ouster of Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi, supporters of the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood have attacked, looted, and torched over 60 Coptic Christian churches.
Sandri has clearly stated that the anti-Christian violence is “unacceptable,” but he has also emphasized a mutual co-existence and respect of all faiths. “We have to think that God’s commandment to love one another is valid for everyone,” he said, “both Muslims and Christians.”
However, Cardinal Bechara Rai, leader of the eastern-rite Maronite Catholics, said Monday that Christians always pay the highest price when conflicts erupt in the Middle East. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Rai noted that, whenever a conflict and its ensuing chaos break out in the Middle East, Muslim groups attack the minority Christian community and use them as a scapegoat.
Vatican Radio goes on to report:
The Patriarch, who is based in Lebanon also noted that other countries, especially in the West but also elsewhere, are helping to foment these conflicts. He said that Christians seek security and stability and he spoke of how throughout the Arab world Christians respect the institutions, the authorities and the constitution. Cardinal Rai said that the presence of Christians in Arab countries has created a certain moderation in the Muslim world. Speaking about the tensions between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Christian community in Egypt, the Maronite Patriarch said it was clear that once in power the Brotherhood would seek Shariah law, which Christians were against. Christians, he said want a reformed and democratic Egypt, an Egypt that knows how to respect human rights.