ROME, FEB. 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- As Egypt endures its 10th day of protests attempting to oust President Hosni Mubarak, the Catholic Coptic patriarch of Alexandria is urging people to return to their homes and jobs.
Cardinal Antonios Naguib told his countrymen that the hour has come “to return to your homes and your jobs in peace, following the invitation extended by the authorities to be able to recover what the country has lost.”
Cardinal Naguib said the Church “carries in its heart” this “precarious moment of [the nation’s] history.”
Mubarak, 82, has reigned in Egypt for almost 30 years. The protests seeking his resignation brought as many as 100,000 people to central Cairo today, according to the Associated Press. Earlier this week, the protests became violent as Mubarak’s supporters clashed with the marchers.
The cardinal said the Church is praying that God “will give peace and stability to Egypt and [it] asks God to give wisdom and understanding to the leaders of the nation and all those who work for it.”
He also expressed gratitude for those trying to defend the security of the country, and protect citizens and property from destruction.
The Church “calls everyone to embrace ethical and human values, which are characteristic of the Egyptian people, especially fear of the Lord and love for homeland and neighbor,” Cardinal Naguib stated.
Dialogue and peace
Father Rafiq Greish, the director of the press office for the Catholic Church in Egypt, told ZENIT that the Church does not have a political position regarding whether the president stays or goes. It believes in everyone’s freedom regardless of political points of view, he said, and it waves the flag of “non-destruction” and encouragement of national dialogue.
He reported that the pope and patriarch of the Orthodox Coptic Church, Shenouda III, has declared his support for the president.
Mubarak has seven months remaining in his six-year term.
Father Greish noted the economic effects of the protests, as banks and other institutions are closed for the 10th day straight.
The director of the press office for the Catholic Church in Egypt concluded: “Every day, we raise prayers, Masses, and hours of worship in our Egyptian Catholic churches. We are also trying to calm the youth down, and urging them to search for stability in their country.”
Coptic Christians — both Orthodox and Catholic — and other Christian groups make up about 10% of Egypt’s more than 80 million people. The other 90% is mostly Sunni Muslim.[With reporting from Marie Assameen]