AFP – The head of Egypt’s Coptic church has urged his congregation to refrain from confessing their sins over the phone, which could be tapped by the security services, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
“Beware not to admit your sins over the telephone because all phone conversations are recorded by the state security services,” Pope Shenuda III was quoted as saying by the independent Al-Masri Al-Yawm paper.
“Otherwise you will have to go seek absolution in prison, from the police, rather than from your local priest,” the cleric told worshippers during a sermon in Alexandria on Sunday, according to the report.
According to the paper, Shenuda III was referring to Copts who are travelling abroad and those who have relocated to new addresses who often use the telephone to maintain contact with their local parish priest.
Two years ago the head of the Coptic church had warned that a confession made on the Internet is not valid “because everyone can see it and it is no longer secret.”
Confession of sins is a central element of many Christian rites.
Copts make up about 10 percent of the country’s 80-million largely Muslim population and are the Middle East’s largest Christian community.