Interim leader of Egyptian Catholic Copts is hopeful after election

Bishop Kyrillos William at the press conference in Madrid Credit ACN wwwacnukorg CNA World Catholic News 7 12 12 Coptic Catholic Bishop Kyrillos William. | ACN.

Coptic Catholic Bishop Kyrillos William has said he is optimistic about the future of Egypt following the country's presidential election.

"The future will not be worse than what we have had before," Bishop William, administrator of the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria, told Aid to the Church in Need on July 11.

His comments follow the June election of Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood-backed candidate, as the Egyptian president.

The bishop, who is heading the patriarchate in place of the incapacitated Cardinal Patriarch Antonios Naguib, said he is confident the president will keep the promises he made that he will govern for all Egyptians regardless of their religion.

"In Egypt we all are Egyptian – whether Christian or Muslim – and the President has promised that there will be a Copt and a woman appointed as vice-presidents," Bishop William said. "Although we still do not know who will be appointed, we trust he will keep his word."

He said that the position of Christians in Egypt is "better here than in many other countries" but they still have faced prejudice and discrimination. They were barred from senior government positions and treated "like second-class citizens."

Bishop William said the Catholic Church's work in the country, particularly in education is widely appreciated in Egypt.

The country has 170 Catholic schools and many non-Catholic leaders send their children there.

The bishop said this means that when these leaders' children become leaders themselves "they will be more open in their relations with us Christians and more respectful."

Christians make up about nine percent of Egypt's population. There are only 250,000 Catholics in a total population of 83 million, Aid to the Church in Need says.

Other Christian leaders have commented on President Morsi's election.

In June Bishop Joannes Zakaria of Luxor said Christians hope that the president will honor his promises to represent all Egyptians.

In May Bishop Antonios Mina of Giza voiced concern about Morsi's backers in the Muslim Brotherhood, saying that the group has a track record of unfulfilled promises of tolerance to non-Islamist groups. 

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch, an Egyptian citizen, has voiced confidence in the president's ability to maintain Egypt's role "as pole, pioneer and pilot in the Arab world both inside and outside Egypt."

In a letter to the new president, Patriarch Gregorios stressed the need for equal citizenship and human rights.

President Morsi is presently facing a political crisis after he attempted to reinstate parliament in defiance of the military, which dissolved it last month in accordance with a court ruling.

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