Cairo (Agenzia fides) - Coptic monasteries reopen the doors to welcome young people who ask to become monks again, after the admission of novices to monastic communities was suspended a year ago by the Committee for the monastic life of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The drastic measure was part of the 12 provisions taken by the Coptic Church following the murder of Anba Epiphanios (in the photo), the Bishop abbot of the monastery of Saint Macarius, who was found lifeless inside the monastery at dawn on Sunday 29 July, 2018, along the way that led from his cell to the church, where the Bishop was going to start the day with the morning prayer, before Sunday Mass (see Fides, 30/7/2018). The Egyptian justice has tried and sentenced two monks of the monastery for that homicide, decreeing the death penalty for them.
The brutal crime of St. Macarius was experienced as a trauma by the whole Coptic Church, especially within the flourishing monastic communities. The tragic story had also accelerated the process of discernment regarding the monastic life already started long ago within the Coptic Orthodox Church. A few days after the murder of Anba Epiphanios, the Committee for the monasteries of the Holy Coptic Orthodox Synod laid down 12 rules - ratified by Patriarch Tawadros II - addressed to all those who live the monastic condition in the Coptic Orthodox Church. As part of the new rules, Pope Tawadros also ratified the order to suspend the acceptance of new candidates for monastic life for a year, and that of regulating in a more rigorous way the hour of access of visitors and pilgrims to the monasteries. The Coptic monks and nuns were also asked to close their personal accounts and any blogs managed on social media, considered with a critical eye as tools used above all to spread "confusing ideas". Among the 12 disciplinary measures there was also the prohibition for individual monks and individual nuns to receive donations from the faithful, from the abbot or abbess of the monastery. In the following months, all the monasteries were visited by patriarchal delegates, charged with supervising the status of each individual monastic community from a spiritual, administrative and financial point of view.
Now, the revocation of the stop to the admission of new aspirants to the monastic life is perceived as a positive signal. The Coptic Church once again looks to the future, relying on the grace that works in hearts and can arouse authentic vocations to monastic life. Aspiring monks, according to the rules in force in the Coptic Orthodox Church, must be at least 23 years old, and must be free from chronic illnesses or mental illnesses that make them unsuitable for monastic and community life. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 1/8/2019)