Mons. Kyrillos William

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Coptic Catholic Bishop on Death Penalty: No Tolerance

Bishop Repeats Life Is Inviolable Right After Former Egyptian President Sentenced to Death

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Following the death sentence issued for former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Coptic Catholic Bishop has reaffirmed the Church’s no-tolerance stance against the death penalty.

According to Fides, Coptic Catholic Bishop of the Egyptian city of Assiut, Anba Kyrillos William, said the Church «believes life is an inviolable right, and remains opposed to the death penalty.”

This statement was made regarding Morsi, whose death sentence aroused strong reactions not only in Egypt, but also other countries such as Turkey. Leading the protests is the Islamist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, who threatened to retaliate for this judgment it deems to be unfair.

The Society of the Muslim Brothers, now referred to as the Muslim Brotherhood, is an Islamist organization founded in Egypt in 1928 by Islamic scholar and school teacher Hassan al-Banna and has spread rapidly throughout Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, and North Africa. The Brotherhood, at its height in the 1940s, had about 500,000 members and advocates a return to the Qur’an for a healthy, modern Islamic society.

Even though the Islamists’ reaction has already taken violent connotations, the Coptic said, «The population seems to support the judgment.» He highlighted that the people have not forgotten the suffering endured when Morsi was President.

He underscored how on June 2, the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar will give his verdict, which will either confirm the sentence or ask the sentence to be changed to other less severe punishments such as life imprisonment.

While «The Church respects the independence of the judiciary,” the Coptic Catholic Bishop said it will always oppose the death penalty. “The fact is,” he stressed, “that this type of sentence is still contemplated in the Egyptian legal order.»

The bishop recounted when former President Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life imprisonment and how the Muslim Brotherhood, then in power, demanded a new trial so that he would be sentenced to death.» According to a minister’s wife,» he said, «Mubarak had to pay with his life the serious things he had committed.»

Mubarak led the nation almost 30 years but was swept from power after massive protests in February 2011.

“On that occasion,» he said, «I could reach out and touch the difference between the Christian approach, which includes the criteria of mercy and compassion, and a mindset that I would call ‘Old Testament’, where there is only the logic of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.» (D.C.L.)

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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