3rd Fire in Egypt Diocese Blamed on Short Circuit

Bishop Asks Prayer as Government Refuses New Place for Worship

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LUXOR, Egypt, SEPT. 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Coptic Catholic bishop of Luxor is asking for prayers following the third fire in his diocese in as many years, all attributed by authorities to a «short circuit.»

Bishop Joannes Zakaria reported in a statement that the Coptic Catholic church in Hagazah was completely destroyed in an early morning fire Monday.

«Unfortunately, this village has a difficult story of violence and troubles between the Christians and the Muslims,» noted the prelate, who was named bishop of Luxor in 1994. «Five years ago, after a quarrel in the market, a Christian killed a Muslim, and three years ago, during the Easter Vigil, the Muslims killed three Christian young people.»

The bishop added that «[y]esterday and today, I met with the government and police authorities, and they informed me that the cause of the fire was a short circuit. During the meeting, I asked the permission to prepare a new building to celebrate the holy Mass next Sunday for about 600 Coptic Catholics, who live in the village of Hagazah, but they refused.»

Egypt’s almost 10% Christian population is mainly Coptic, both Orthodox and Catholic.

Bishop Zakaria explained that Monday’s is the third fire in his diocese: «[T]hree years ago a fire destroyed the third floor of the bishop’s house of Luxor; and one year ago anther fire destroyed a part of the house of the Little Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Isna; and this year the fire destroyed the Coptic Catholic church of Hagazah; and for these three fires the cause is the same: a short circuit.»

The 61-year-old bishop said his statement is an appeal for prayer and solidarity. He said that he and the 600 Coptic Catholics «need your prayers and your brotherhood to have a strong courage, and that Our Lord will help us to continue to live and witness our faith of love and peace.»

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