Monks arrested over suspected murder of Coptic Orthodox bishop

Saint Macarius Monastery in Egypt's Beheira governorate, November 2010. Credit: Berthold Werner via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Saint Macarius Monastery in Egypt's Beheira governorate, November 2010. Credit: Berthold Werner via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

.- Egyptian police have arrested two men, one a monk and one a former monk, over the death last month of Bishop Epiphanius, the abbot of St. Macarius Monastery.

Bishop Epiphanius' body was found July 29, with injuries to his head and back that suggest that he had been hit by a sharp object. St. Macarius is a Coptic Orthodox monastery in Egypt's Beheira governorate, about 60 miles northwest of Cairo.

Isaiah al-Makary, whose name in the world is Wael Saad, was expelled from the monastery a few days after Bishop Epiphanius' death. He was charged with the bishop's murder Aug. 11.

The Egypt Independent reported that Saad confessed to the murder the following day, and said that another monk, Faltaous al-Makary (Raymond Rasmi Mansour) had assisted in the crime.

Faltaous, 33, was detained Aug. 13. He had attempted suicide the previous week and was being treated at a hospital in Cairo.

Saad was expelled from the monastery Aug. 5, for “inappropriate actions which violate monastic behavior and way of life,” the Egypt Independent reported. The Coptic Orthodox Church said that his dismissal had been decided on before the bishop's death.

After Saad's confession, his lawyer, Amir Nasif, withdrew and declined to defend the suspect.

Tawadros II, Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria, announced Aug. 2 that Coptic Orthodox monasteries will stop accepting seminarians for one year, Egypt Today reported.

The Church has also instructed its monks to close their social media accounts, and has suspended the ordination of monks for three years.

According to The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre, Bishop Epiphanius was born June 27, 1954 in Egypt's Tanta governorate. He joined St Macarius Monastery in February 1984, and became a monk in April of that year. He was ordained a priest Oct. 17, 2002, and in 2013 was elected abbot and consecrated a bishop.

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, though they are not considered so any longer.

Tags: Coptic Orthodox Church, Bishop Epiphanius, St. Macarius Monastery