Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - This afternoon, Tuesday, February 18, the leaders and many senior members of the prominent Christian denominations in Egypt - including Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak - will gather at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of San Marco in Cairo, in the presence of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II, to celebrate the first anniversary of the establishment of the National Council of Christian Churches. A year ago, February 18, 2013, the highest representatives of five churches - Coptic Orthodox, Coptic Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant – had signed the establishment of the institution with a strong ecumenical value at the Coptic Orthodox cathedral. According to the Coptic Catholic Bishop Assiut Kyrillos William, "the establishment of the National Council of Churches was an important fact for all of us, and we can already see the effects at a local level: during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, one could see that the faithful were pleased to see the heads of Christian churches pray together. "This year, for the first time" refers Anba Kyrillos to Fides Agency "a Coptic Catholic Bishop, the Patriarchal Vicar Hanna Golta, preached in a Coptic Orthodox Church. This had never happened before". According to the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Assiut, the new climate concerning the relations between members of different Christian denominations is largely due to the good will and openness shown by Pope Tawadros.
The National Council of Churches in Egypt has a presidential committee (which gathers the five heads of the Churches involved), a general secretariat (composed of 5 representatives of the various churches and currently chaired by the Coptic Orthodox priest Bishoy Helmy) and an executive committee formed by 15 members. Among them there is also a theological commission, which with time could face at a local level even controversial issues such as how the Coptic Orthodox administer baptism to Christians of other denominations that become part of their Church. Father Bishoy Elmy said recently that between Coptic Orthodoxs and Coptic Catholics there are 15 controversial theological and doctrinal issues on which one can open a discussion. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 18/02/2014)