A spokesman for the Catholic bishops of Egypt is reiterating that the conflict under way in the nation is not Christian vs Muslim violence, but a war against terrorism.
Fr. Rafic Greiche told the Fides news agency that 58 churches and Christian institutions were attacked and set on fire in Egypt in the past few days.
“Out of 58 churches attacked,” he explained, “14 are Catholic. The rest belong to the Coptic Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant communities.”
The priest noted that the attacks against the churches “took place all over the country, but are concentrated especially in the areas of Al Minya and Assiut, because it is there that we find the headquarters of the jihadists, responsible for this violence.”
Pope Francis and Coptic Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria have urged an end to the violence.
The prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, told the French edition of Vatican Radio that Egypt’s revival must “take place in respect of the human person.”
“The destruction of Christian churches is unacceptable,” the cardinal said.
“The revival of the country must take place in respect of the human person, in the mutual respect of all religions, in respect for religious freedom,” he added, affirming that religion cannot be used to justify violence.
The bishops’ spokesman, Fr. Greiche, told Fides: “It should be emphasized that Muslims who live in the vicinity of the affected churches have helped men and women religious to put out the fires of the religious buildings.
“This is not a civil war between Christians and Muslims. It is not a civil war but a war against terrorism. And the majority of the population is against terrorism and religious extremism.”