Coptic pope renews religious ban on visits to Jerusalem
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012
The newly elected Coptic pope has said he will uphold his predecessor’s policy of discouraging Copts from visiting occupied Jerusalem, according to the Middle East Monitor.
Pope Tawadros II, who was selected as the new patriarch of Alexandria on Sunday, announced that Copts should forgo travel to the holy city until it is liberated from Israeli occupation.
“We will not encourage these visits because we cannot accept that Copts be traitors to their Arab brethren,” he said to Egyptian newspaper al-Mashhad.
Pope Shenouda III, who led the Coptic community for 40 years until his death in March, was well known for being a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, rejecting normalization of relations with the Jewish state. He banned visits to Jerusalem in 1979 after Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel, threatening those who chose to forgo his ruling with “ecclesiastical punishment,” such as denial of communion.
A number of Copt pilgrims were barred entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher during Easter celebrations in April, after the Saint Helena chapel priest decided to maintain Shenouda’s injunction after his passing, according to al-Masry al-Youm.