Friday Prayers for Egypt: Cathedral Violence

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It was an unprecedented offense, as this Coptic Orthodox cathedral has never before been besieged. But for several hours tear gas rained in a hailstorm of stones. Molotov cocktails exploded among volleys of birdshot. Two died. What died with them, God?

God, there is too much conspiracy – save Egypt from manipulation. Bring truth to light and expose the darkness in men’s hearts. But the darkness has infected everything, so that little can be known for sure. But certainty is on the lips of most.

All this for a funeral, God? Oh, that it was all spontaneous, as bad as that would be. An altercation outside Cairo devolved into the death of a Muslim and now six Christians. The funeral of the latter was held in the heart of Coptic Egypt, the seat of the pope. Politically charged, frustrated Copts chanted against the Muslim Brotherhood, and on exiting the cathedral were hit by stones thrown from neighboring residences. It is said Coptic youth smashed parked cars and picked fights with police. Perhaps, like countless times before, a street fight picked up steam and self-perpetuated.

But nowhere in Egypt had it self-perpetuated on sacred ground.

Egypt is tense, God, and if not desensitized, Egyptians are politically hyper-sensitive. So much is at stake, small things become combustible. Maybe the cathedral violence was Egyptian all natural. It is immeasurable sad this is the preferred scenario.

But the one conspiracy claims Copts hit themselves. What better way to discredit Islamists than sectarian tension in the Vatican of Coptic Orthodoxy? In cooperation with police trigger happy on the tear gas, a newly politicized pope can put longstanding charges of negligence in full view of the world. Not all need be planned, but set the stage and watch the sparks fly.

And the other conspiracy claims Islamists want nothing more than to distract the people through religious conflict. They can wash their hands officially, say all the right words, but paint the opposition with a sectarian lens. In light of papal support for establishment Azhar, this incident serves also to put them in their place.

God, how can Egyptians know?

Open their hearts, God, to know themselves first and foremost. Expose to each the depth of their blindness, sin, and self-deception. Here, all are guilty, but without malice. It is the state of mankind, but without your quickening, discernment is limited. Heal them, God, that they may heal their land.

And as their hearts open, God, open their eyes. May they see clearly, with simplicity. There are those who are playing games with the most sacred of subjects. Perhaps you care little for the symbolism, God, but you care greatly for integrity. For those guilty of the above, with malice, may you expose them to all.

Then God, with pure hearts and wide eyes, open their minds to new possibilities for their nation and selves. What is justice for the Egyptian, God? Lead him to know and structure his society accordingly. May creativity and conservatism hold hands.

And, God, may the hands of all be open. Open to embrace the other. Open, not for begging, but because the weapon has been dropped, the fist unclenched.

But for now, the cathedral, like these essential organs everywhere, remains shut. Open Egypt, for Egyptians. Open her to you.


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