Cairo, Egypt, Aug 2, 2018 / 06:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Coptic Orthodox bishop was was found dead as a result of a suspected murder in St. Macarius Monastery in Egypt on Sunday.
Bishop Epiphanius, who died July 29, was abbot of the monastery, which is located in Egypt’s Beheira governorate, about 60 miles northwest of Cairo.
His body had injuries to his head and back that suggest that he had been hit by a sharp object, according to the preliminary security investigation.
The bishop was remembered for his wisdom, simplicity and humility by Tawadros II, Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria, who celebrated Bishop Epiphanius’ funeral Mass on Tuesday.
“Just as the meaning of his name is light, he also enlightened our world. We are extremely saddened by his departure but we live on in hope of the resurrection when we bid farewell to all our loved ones,” Tawadros II said at the July 31 funeral, according to Ahram Online.
According to The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre, Bishop Epiphanius was born June 27, 1954 in Egypt’s Tanta governorate. He joined St Macarius Monastery in February 1984, and became a monk in April of that year. He was ordained a priest Oct. 17, 2002, and consecrated a bishop March 10, 2013.
In Defence of Christians (IDC) condemned the “horrific attack” on Bishop Epiphanius, calling it “the latest in a string of violence against Coptic Christians that has increased sharply in 2017 and 2018.”
Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority has suffered continued attacks since the 2015 Islamic State beheading of 21 men. In December 2017, ten people were reported dead after terrorists attacked a Coptic church near Cairo. Forty-nine Christians died in church bombings on Palm Sunday in 2017. A Coptic priest was murdered in a knife attack in Cairo in October 2017.
IDC called on the U.S. Administration and the State Department to hold Egypt accountable for the treatment of Coptic Christians.
Tawadros II announced Aug. 2 that Coptic Orthodox monasteries will stop accepting seminarians for one year, Egypt Today reported.
The Coptic Orthdox Church is an Oriental Orthodox Church, meaning it rejected the 451 Council of Chalcedon, and its followers had historically been considered monophysites – those who believe Christ has only one nature – by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, though they are not considered so any longer.