SOME PERSONALITIES FROM THE 20TH CENTURY
FR. TADROS Y. MALATY
1. POPE KYRILLOS (CYRIL) V
Pope Cyril V is the first Coptic patriarch who confronted
the "Maglis Milli" (Community Religious Council),
concerning the bylaws of this council, which were adopted by Tawfik Pasha, before the consecration of Pope Cyril V, while the papal throne was unoccupied.
This Council believed that its authority was above that of
the Church. It was not formed of church members, but its
delegates were chosen by the government from outside the
church. As a result its members thought that they have an
authority over the church. Pope Cyril V tried in vain to
moderate with them through love, but they considered him
not as their spiritual father but as their competitor in
authority. They did their best to obtain a decree from the
government to exclude the Pope from all church
administrative affairs and from the presidency over the
"Maglis Milli." They were able to win the Bishop of
Sanabou to their side and accepted his appointment as an
acting Pope and president of the council, but the Pope
threatened him with excommunication. The Russian consul
intervened between the Pope and his children, the council
members. The members of the council however insisted on
the appointment of the Bishop of Sanabou as the acting Pope
and as their president. They wrote to the government and to
the Khedive informing them of their decision, using unsuitable language against the Pope.
Some bishops and priests met in Alexandria, and declared
their loyalty to their Pope, requesting the excommunication
of the Bishop of Sanabou and his followers. The Pope
proclaimed the excommunication and the causes for its issue.
Some Coptic archons together with the excommunicated
bishop wrote to the Prime Ministry asking him for the exile
of the Pope and the secretary of the Holy Synod Anba
Yuanis the metropolitan of El-Behera. The governmental
decree was issued and the Pope was house arrested in El-
Baramous Monastery, and Anba Yuanis in Anba Paul
Monastery. This decree had the opposite effect on all the
Coptic people who heartedly took the side of their pope
considering the excommunication of the bishop as a
necessary measure. The Council members asked the
government its help to reinstate the excommunicated bishop.
The Holy synod of the bishops was called by the government
to convene in Cairo and discuss this matter. Only three
bishops came and they confirmed the excommunication in-
stead of lifting it up.
The Pope's followers requested the Prime Minister for the
return of their Pope, but he asked them to incite the Pope to
write to the Khedieve asking for forgiveness. They replied
that the Pope abstained from all earthly glory and honor, and
he would never accept this condition. Finally, after meeting
with the Khedive and sending many telegrams, the Khedive
issued a decree on January 30, 1893, for the return of the
Pope and the metropolitan. ASH. Leeder said that Cairo
never prepared a greater reception like that one made for the
return of the patriarch2.
The pope revealed his kind fatherhood by granting openly
absolution to the excommunicated bishop in front of the
bishops, priests and laity, and to all who followed him. He
opened his heart with love towards those who planned for
his house arrest, giving a living picture to priesthood and fa-
He met the Calivate who granted him the national medal, the highest honour in Egypt at that time. The Ethiopian emperor gave him a papal crown.
Pope Kyrillos V was known for his interest in studying
and seeking for knowledge. Before his ordination, he used to
spend most of his time in the monastery in copying books for
the libraries of the monasteries. He was then called "John the
Copier." When he was ordained pope of Alexandria, he
established the theological School in Cairo, and set a special
department for church music. In addition, he established...
built a High School joined up with the primary Coptic
School in Tanta, in the Nile Delta, encouraged bishops to
build "Coptic schools" in their dioceses. He also encouraged
the "Tawfik Society" to establish schools for girls. In addi-
tion, established three schools for monks in Alexandria,
Boush and El Mouharaq Monastery, and sent seven monks
to Athens to study theology.
He took care of the priests, encouraging them to practise
pastoral care, especially visiting the people. He made two
pastoral visits to the Sudan, and there he established a Coptic
He encouraged printing books and publishing the Theological writings of the Fathers.
THE COPTIC CONFERENCE ON MARCH 6TH, 1913
The conference was held to ask the Egyptian government
to grant Christians the same rights as the Muslims, both civil
and religious rights. The government asked the Pope not to
hold a conference, in order to avoid any troubles that might
arise as a result. The Pope acknowledged the impossibility of
stopping the conference, he wisely wrote a message to the
participants in this conference urging them to be wise and
calm. He asked the metropolete of Assuit to be present and
take care of it by himself and introduce the opening session.
Pope Cyril V was a patriotic, and a statesman and was greatly honored by the whole country.
1. See the text of the letter in: Youssef Mankarious: (Al-Kawl Al-Yakien) the Assure Words in the Orthodox Copts' matter.
2. A.H. Leeder: Modern Sons of the Pharaohs, P.260.
3. Fr. Yohanna: Hist. of the Coptic Church, 1979, p.589 (in Arabic).