Egyptian Catholic Bishops: 'Ousting of Morsi...a Joyous Day for Us Christians'

By Curtis Houck | July 10, 2013 | 2:11 PM EDT


Mohammed Morsi (AP photo)

( - Father Rafik Greiche, head of the press office of the Egyptian Catholic Bishops' Conference, declared that the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters on July 3 was "a joyous day for Christians."

"The ousting of Morsi and the political new beginning is a joyous day for us Christians in Egypt and for all Egyptians. We hope that we will not be excluded from the political process that lies before us," he said during a talk last Thursday with the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

The announcement of Morsi's removal and the suspension of the constitution adopted in December was made on Egyptian television by the chief of the Egyptian military, General Abdul Fatah el-Sissi, who said that an interim government would take over until new parliamentary and presidential elections could be held.

Fr. Greiche made a point to note that what happened in Egypt was not a coup d'état. Rather, he said, "the army carried out the will of the people. They expressed this unequivocally over the last few days through millions of signatures and massive demonstrations in Cairo and throughout the whole country."

"A number of western media are now presenting it as a coup d'état. But a putsch happens when officers take power and act without the endorsement of the people. But this is exactly what did not happen in Egypt yesterday. Moreover, the army wanted to prevent the bloodshed the Muslim brothers were threatening. This is why they took action."

Christians are a small religious minority in Egypt.. According to the CIA World Factbook, 90 percent of Egyptians are Muslims and a majority of them are Sunnis, the largest denomination in Islam. Coptic Christians make up nine percent of the population, with other Christians making up the remaining one percent.

A 2012 State Department report noted increased violence towards Egyptian Christians following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the election of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Morsi a year ago.

"The government generally failed to prevent, investigate, or prosecute crimes against members of religious minorities, including Coptic Christians, which fostered a climate of impunity. In some cases, authorities reacted slowly or with insufficient resolve when mobs attacked Christians and their property," according to the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report

But with Morsi gone, Father Greiche expressed optimism about the future of Egypt and its Christian minority.

"The non-Islamist opposition has found a new unity. What will be decisive, however, is that politics are led by the youth and not vice versa." he said. "The young people from Tahrir Square need to be involved now. They must not be excluded again as they were after the revolution in 2011."