Cairo (AsiaNews) - The patriarch of the Copts, Shenouda III, has decided not to preside over the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany in Alexandria tomorrow. The decision, revealed by the Cairo newspaper Al Ahram, was taken by the head of the Coptic Church out of respect for the people in Alexandria who are still in mourning for the victims of the attack on the Church of Saints on the night of January 1 (01 / 01/2011 Massacre of Christians in Alexandria. Car bomb explodes outside a church). It will be the first time that the patriarch did not celebrate the Mass of the Epiphany in Alexandria.
Sources close to Shenouda III attribute this decision to the desire to respect the atmosphere of sadness that pervades Church spheres in Alexandria. But the patriarch, who will stay in Cairo, has decided to forgo presiding over celebrations in the Abbassiya cathedral in Cairo, and has preferred to choose to officiate a mass private, not open to the public.Shenouda III, who is 87, he returned to Egypt on Jan. 17 from a trip to the United States for a medical check on his kidneys, heart and progress in the recovery of the use of a leg operated on in 2008. His first public appearance, on his return from the trip will take place tomorrow during his weekly Wednesday sermon. Although it is the first time that he has not been present at the celebration of the Epiphany in Alexandria, the patriarch in the past has threatened not to preside at important religious celebrations in protest against the secular authorities for social discrimination and laws affecting the Copts. There are currently talks between the Coptic Church and the State to change laws governing permits for the construction of Christian buildings in Egypt, which is currently very restrictive.