Al-Jazeera, Saudi Arabia, Originally Posted in Arabic on November 26
The head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, made a short visit to Al-Quds in order to participate in the funeral of the Coptic Archbishop who passed away in the city earlier this week. This visit sparked great controversy, as it violated a longstanding pilgrimage ban imposed by the Pope’s predecessor, the late Shenouda III, who stood against the normalization of ties with Israel.
In fact, since 1967, no church official has ever visited the Holy City. Pope Tawdros defended his participation in the funeral, claiming that paying respect to the belated Archbishop is “a duty” not only for Copts, but also for all human beings. He clarified that his trip to Jerusalem is not a formal visit, as it was not planned in advance and does not consist of “scheduled meetings with officials”.
However, this is the first Coptic papal visit to Jerusalem since 1832, and it comes at a time of great oppression of Palestinian rights in the Occupied Territories. Several groups in Egypt criticized the visit, claiming that it will pave the way for more visits of Occupied Jerusalem by Coptic followers.
The Church, meanwhile, released a message clarifying that the Pope’s participation in the funeral does not reflect “a change in the Church’s stance regarding the Occupied Palestinian Territories”. – Al-Jazeera Staff