In defiance of papal ban, Coptic bishop sets out for Jerusalem

Coptic Bishop of Giza Theodosius violated Coptic Pope Shenouda III's decree banning Coptic Christians from making pilgrimage to Jerusalem when he left Cairo for the holy city on Wednesday using an Israeli visa.

A church source at the Giza Diocese revealed that the bishop's visit to Israel did not represent his first, noting that he had previously visited the self-proclaimed Jewish state to meet with Bishop Abraham, Coptic bishop of Jerusalem. The source indicated that the main aim of the bishop's current trip was to visit the city's historic Christian sites.

The source went on to explain that Theodisius had obtained an Israeli entry visa from Israel's embassy in Cairo. He also noted that the bishop's passport already contained a number of Israeli visas, in contravention of Shenouda's stated position against diplomatic normalization with Israel.

Theodosius, for his part, has stressed that his trip–while having provoked a degree of resentment among some quarters–was not a secret.

According to the church source, however, the majority of Copts in Giza disapprove of the move, especially in light of the fact that many elderly Copts that had requested church permission to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem were refused and threatened with excommunication by church authorities.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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