Middle East

Egypt’s Five Largest Denominations Unite for First Time

(UPDATED) Is creation of first Council of Churches poised to challenge the Muslim Brotherhood?

This week may prove monumental in the modern history of Egyptian Christianity. On Monday (Feb. 18), heads of the five largest denominations–Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, and Anglican–united to create Egypt's first Council of Churches.

For the first time since the dawn of Catholic and Protestant missions in the 17th and 18th centuries, Egypt's Christians formally stand united.

"I believe history will record this day as we celebrate the establishment of a council for all churches of Egypt," said Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which boasts approximately 90 percent of all Egyptian Christians. "I think such a step was delayed for years."

In recent decades, tension has characterized ecumenical relations, amid an environment of majority Orthodox dominance, theological disputes, and accusations against minority denominations as sheep stealers. Administrative disputes even led the Orthodox Church to withdraw from the Middle East Council of Churches, leaving ...

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