A new Cathedral of the Nativity for Egypt’s Coptic Church of Alexandria was inaugurated near Cairo on 6 January, the eve of Coptic Christmas. The Al-Fattah Al-Aleem Mosque was inaugurated the same day.
Located about 45 km east of Cairo, the cathedral hosted its mass under heavy security, a day after a bomb near a Coptic church in Nasr City, an eastern suburb of Cairo, killed a policeman.
The cathedral can accommodate 8,000 worshippers and the mosque twice as many.
A new Cathedral of the Nativity near Cairo for Egypt’s Coptic Church. Photo: Popetawadros.org
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi inaugurated the cathedral in what many regarded as a message of unity across the country. In remarks at the inauguration, El-Sisi said this is an important moment in Egypt’s history.
“We are one and we will remain one,” he said, referring to Egyptian Christians and Muslims. Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt’s population. More than 100 Copts have been killed in attacks since December 2016.
The head of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb said that this was a momentous occasion and “an embodiment of the soul of brotherhood and love.”
Pope Tawadros II said: “”This is a day of joy as we see our beloved country write a new page in the history of civilisation. We pray for our unity to continue as the world witnesses such tolerance and love in our country, God bless you all, long live Egypt.”
World Council of Churches, oikoumene.org