Thursday, January 17, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt appoints new Patriarch

Ibrahim Isaac SidrakThe new leader of the Catholic Copts is 57-year-old Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, who up until now has been Bishop of the Coptic Catholic Episcopal See of Minya. 

Ever since the first rumours that filtered through from Egyptian Catholic circles, the Coptic Catholic Synod initially had to convince the bishop to accept the role as successor to outgoing leader Cardinal Antonios Naguib.

The new Patriarch was born on 19 August 1955 in Beni-Cliker, in the Eparchy of Assiut. He studied philosophy and theology at the Major Seminary in Maadi, Cairo, and was ordained priest in February 1980. He studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University, graduating in Dogmatic Theology, a discipline he also taught at the Seminary in Maadi. 

Between 1990 and 2001 he was rector of the Seminary and director of the Catechistic Office of Sakakini. In 2002 he became parish priest of the Coptic Catholic Cathedral in Cairo. In September that year the Synod selected him as Eparch of the Diocese of Minya, where he also succeeded Antonios Naguib.

More than a fifth of the approximately 200 thousand-strong Coptic population is concentrated in the Minya area, 250 Km south of Cairo. In the last five years the Eparchy has distinguished itself for its pastoral and social dynamism, focusing on the catechesis and charity initiatives for the unemployed, prostitutes, prisoners and families in crisis.


Ibrahim Sidrak supported and joined in the apostolic fervour of his diocese. In recent years, the bishop attended the Synod for Africa (2009) and the Middle East (2010). He has always stood out for his balanced and realistic stances. When the revolution broke out on 25 January 2011, he constantly stressed the inability of the old regime to deal with the requests for change Egyptian society has been making over the years, giving balanced judgements about the attacks and violence against Christians both before and after the upheavals. 

In an interview with APIC news agency in spring 2012, he said: “Attacks of this kind are part of the game, they aim to spread chaos and divert attention from current problems, social problems for example.

The people demonstrate, they ask for their dignity to be preserved and for improvements to their current physical condition, so a diversion is created. The regime organises or allows attacks go ahead. The Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood take advantage of this. 

The regime takes advantage of clashes between Muslims and Christians, using tensions to their advantage.”

Now that Sidrak has been nominated as the new Coptic Catholic Patriarch, unusual prospects are opening up for collaboration with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II. 


Tawadros II is also at the start of his patriarchal ministry in an Egypt marked - politically - by the successes and hegemonic drive of Islamist forces.

1 comment:

KGRUENEICHCAREY said...

I am confused by this heading--
1) Was the new Catholic leader appointed by the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt??
(A la RCC difficulties in China)
2) The new Catholic leader was chosen by the Vatican, but he lives in a country run by the Muslim Brotherhood regime??
Please clarify, thanks, KMC