President Trump says the “merciless slaughter of Christians in Egypt tears at our hearts and grieves our souls” after gunmen killed 28 Coptic Christians in Egypt’s El-Minya governorate.
“America also makes clear to its friends, allies, and partners that the treasured and historic Christian Communities of the Middle East must be defended and protected,” Trump said in the statement. “The bloodletting of Christians must end, and all who aid their killers must be punished.”
The attack on the Copts is the latest since the one on April 9, Palm Sunday, when suicide bombers struck Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria, killing a total of 47 people. The Egyptian government issued a three-month state of emergency after those bombings. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack, and others on the group.
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is an Oriental Orthodox Christian church in Egypt, Northeast Africa and the Middle East. The head of the Church and the See of Alexandria is the Patriarch of Alexandria on the Holy See of Saint Mark, who also carries the title of Coptic Pope. The See of Alexandria is titular, and today the Coptic Pope presides from Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the Abbassia District in Cairo. With 18–22 million members worldwide, whereof about 20 million are in Egypt, it is the country’s largest church.
The Coptic Orthodox Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of Churches, which has been a distinct Christian body since the schism following the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different position over Christology from that of the rest of the Christian Church (which would split 600 years later into the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church). The precise Christological differences that caused the split with the Coptic Christians are still disputed, highly technical, and mainly concerned with the nature of Christ. The foundational roots of the Coptic Church are based in Egypt, but it has a worldwide following. The Coptic Church follows the Alexandrian Rite for its liturgy, prayer and devotional patrimony.
According to its tradition, the Church was established by Saint Mark, an apostle and evangelist, in the middle of the 1st century (approximately AD 42). (Wikipedia)