Alexandria, Egypt, May 10, 2021 / 18:01 pm
Wael Saad, a former monk of the Coptic Orthodox Church, was executed on Sunday for the 2018 murder of Bishop Epiphanius, the abbot of St. Macarius Monastery.
Saad’s brother told Reuters the family was told to receive his body from a morgue in Damanhour, 40 miles southeast of Alexandria, May 9.
Raymond Rasmi Mansour, another monk who assisted in the crime, has been sentenced to life imprisonment. Mansour had also been sentenced to death, but his sentence was reduced after winning an appeal.
Bishop Epiphanius' body was found July 29, 2018, with injuries to his head and back that suggest that he had been hit by a sharp object.
Saad, whose monastic name was Isaiah al-Makary, was charged with the bishop's murder Aug. 11, 2018, and confessed to the murder the following day. Saad said that Mansour, whose monastic name was Faltaous al-Makary, assisted in the crime. Mansour attempted suicide in August 2018.
Saad was expelled from the monastery Aug. 5, 2018 for “inappropriate actions which violate monastic behavior and way of life.” The Coptic Orthodox Church said that his dismissal had been decided on before the bishop's death.
The bishop’s murder highlighted tension in the Coptic Orthodox Church over monasticism, ecumenism, and reform, and led to the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate issuing several decrees on monasticism.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is an Oriental Orthodox Church, meaning it rejected the 451 Council of Chalcedon, and its followers had historically been considered monophysites – those who believe Christ has only one nature – by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox.