During a recent visit to the headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, the Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt, said that while that country’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion and of conscience the contradictory legal situation in Egypt is making life difficult for the Church.
During his visit, Patriarch Naguib said most Muslims in Egypt follow Islamic law, according to which a Muslim cannot convert to another religion without being punished or even put to death.
Another grave problem for the Church in Egypt, resulting from the unclear legal situation, is the difficulty in obtaining permission to build churches. A 19th century law still in force makes it difficult for Christians to obtain premises for religious worship, he said.
While there are many voices calling for equality in the country, Patriarch Naguib said changes would depend on the “good will” of the particular individual holding office.
In Egypt there are about 250,000 Coptic Catholics and 80 million Muslims. The Catholic Church is divided into seven dioceses and has a total of 11 bishops and 150 priests.