Egypt Coptic Church halts entry of monks after mystery death
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Egypt Coptic Church halts entry of monks after mystery death

As police investigate possible murder of bishop, monastery bans media appearance, unauthorized financial transactions and social media

Wadi el-Natrun monastery in Egypt. (CC BY Lumen roma, Wikimedia Commons)
Wadi el-Natrun monastery in Egypt. (CC BY Lumen roma, Wikimedia Commons)

CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s Coptic Church said Thursday that it will stop accepting any new monks for a year after the mysterious death of a bishop at a monastery northwest of Cairo.

The body of Bishop Epiphanius, the 68-year-old abbot of Saint Macarius monastery in Wadi el-Natrun, was found with head injuries on Sunday in what a security official said was being investigated as a possible murder.

The church announced a dozen measures Thursday related to monks’ activities after a meeting called “to discuss monastic order in light of the painful incident and martyrdom of Bishop Epiphanius,” a church statement said.

It said the number of monks at each monastery would be limited “to ensure monastic order” and they would be restricted from going outside without the abbot’s permission.

They are being warned against making media appearances “in any form” or involvement in unauthorized financial transactions.

Monks are also being given one month “to deactivate and close any social media pages or accounts and voluntarily renounce these behaviors that are not true to monastic life.”

It did not elaborate on why it decided the measures — which were ratified by Coptic Pope Tawadros II — were necessary in response to the bishop’s death.

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of 100 million.

They have long complained of discrimination and have been previously targeted by the Islamic State group although there is no evidence suggesting the bishop’s death was related to sectarian tensions.

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