Bishop Theodosius of Giza traveled to Israel for medical treatment and to visit Christian holy sites; the Church bars pilgrimage to the Jewish state.
A Coptic bishop has violated a Coptic ban on visiting Israel on his recent trip to Jerusalem, reported an Egyptian newspaper.
Coptic Bishop of Giza, Theodosius, traveled to Israel on Wednesday. This violated a decree issued by the Coptic Pope Shenouda III, which bans pilgrimage to the Jewish State until the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was resolved, according to the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.
But an advisor to the Coptic Church in Egypt disagreed with this interpretation. Nagib Gibra’il says that Bishop Theodosius went to Israel to seek medical attention, which he said does not constitute a violation of the pope’s decree.
“He traveled to receive treatment and not for pilgrimage purposes, so there’s no violation of the decision of the pope,” Gibra’il told The Media Line.
According to an unidentified source in the Egyptian daily, however, the primary aim of the trip was to visit Jerusalem’s historic Christian sites. The source also noted that this was not Bishop Theodosius’s first trip to the Jewish State.
Gibra’il, nonetheless, maintained that the bishop’s visit had the support of the Coptic Pope.
“It’s not against the Pope’s wishes,” said Gibra’il. “Anyone who visits Jerusalem without the Pope’s agreement has to publicly apologize. The Church has no problem with people going for work or medical purposes, but not for religious purposes.”
The Coptic Church has barred members from making pilgrimages to Jerusalem while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues. WHY?
Despite the pilgrimage ban, the Coptic Church maintains a bishop in Jerusalem who looks after holy sites, including part of the Holy Sepulchre.
“The bishop has no contact with the Israeli government,” Gibra’il told The Media Line. “His job is to only guard the holy sites.”
According to Al-Masry Al-Youm’s source, many Copts in the bishop’s home of Giza, in Egypt, did not approve of the trip. The source noted that many elderly Copts have been denied the Church’s permission to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem and have been threatened with excommunication if they violate the pilgrimage ban.