The Monastic and Monastic Affairs Committee of the Holy Synod, under the chairmanship of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, and in the presence of H.G. Bishop Daniel, General Secretary of the Holy Synod, and 19 of our fathers, the Metropolitans and Bishops, held a special session to discuss the discipline of monastic life in the light of the painful incident and the martyrdom of His Grace Bishop Epiphanius. After prayer and extensive discussions, the following twelve decrees were issued:
Decisions of the Synodal Committee for Monasticism & Monasteries Affairs – August 2, 2018
- To cease ordaining or accepting novices into monasticism in all Coptic Orthodox Monasteries/Convents within Egypt for one year, effective August 2018.
- Anyone who has established a monastery without the approval of the Patriarchate will be stripped of their rank, either monks or priests, and it will be announced publicly. Also, approval for any new monasteries/convents will not be granted unless for reviving ancient monasteries, while being guided and under the care of a recognized monastery/convent.
- To determine the number of monks/nuns each monastery/convent can accommodate considering its conditions and capabilities, and not exceeding this number to ensure regulating and improving the monastic life.
- To cease ordaining monks into the priesthood ranks (Presbyter & Hegumen) for three years.
- To ban all laymen from attending monks’/nuns’ ordinations to keep the reverence and the essence of true monasticism.
- The monasteries/convents to receive trips and visits throughout the year except during the Advent Fast and Great Lent in which visits are only allowed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, while warning against visiting unrecognized locations, which is the responsibility of each diocese and church.
- To focus and care for the monastic life of monks/nuns and their dedication to their eternal life for which they chose to leave [the world] and never return.
- Any monk/nun who does any of the following will risk being investigated and stripped of his/her monastic or priesthood rank, and it will be announced publicly:
- Appearance in media in any way, shape or form
- Involvement in any financial dealings or projects without delegation from the monastery/convent
- Presence outside the monastery/convent without justification, and leaving with prior permission from the Abbot/Abbess.
- To not permit monks/nuns to attend Crowning Ceremonies or Funerals except through permission from the Abbot/Abbess to a maximum of two monks/nuns [at once].
- To give monks/nuns one month to shut down all social media pages and/or accounts and to refrain willingly from participation in any such behavior, which is unfitting to the monastic life, lest the Church takes measures against them.
- To appeal to all Copts to not engage in any financial dealings or projects with monks or nuns, and to avoid presenting any individual or financial donations except through the monastery/convent leadership or those who represent it.
- Activation of the Guide for Monasticism & Managing the Monastic Life that was established by the holy Synod in June 2013, which is the responsibility of the monastery/convent leadership
His Holiness ratified all these decisions to be decrees, being the Head of the Coptic Orthodox Monasteries.
On May 30, 2015, Bishop David ordained a new priest, Fr. Gregory Saroufeem, for the St. Mary and St. Mark Church of Manhattan. The ceremony took place at St. Vartan’s Armenian Cathedral and was attended by close to 400 parishioners. Formerly known as Nader Saroufeem, a pharmacist from New Jersey who regularly attended Mahattan services, Nader was ordained as Father Gregory. This was a historic event, as this was the first ordination for the Manhattan Church.
Prior to being ordained as a Priest, Father Gregory was first ordained as Deacon Athansius.
The ordination was attended by approximately 20 clergy from New York, New Jersey, New England states and Egypt. Father Gregory explained that he chose the name Gregory after St. Gregory the Armenian, the Illuminator.
Father Gregory is headed to Egypt for his forty day training and will return on July 10th. A reception is planned that afternoon, as he cannot serve the congregation without the reception. The congregation of St. Mary and St. Mark are looking forward to receiving Father Gregory and looking forward to his first mass at the Manhattan church on July 11th.
May God keep for us the life and standing of our beloved Bishop David and our beloved Fr. Gregory Saroufeem. Amen.
Congratulations to Fr. Gregory, his Family, and the congregation of St. Mary & St. Mark Church in Manhattan, NY!
On Thursday, May 28, 2015, the Coptic Holy Synod convened with the presence of 115 members of the distinguished metropolitans and bishops, and was presided over by H.H. Pope Tawadros II and H.G. Bishop Rafeal, the Secretary of the Holy Synod.
Holy Synod Decrees – May 28, 2015
- Recognizing The Monastery of the Virgin Mary & Archangel Michael for nuns in Dairut.
- An official letter to His Holiness requesting the approval for each novice to take the monastic vow must be submitted by the Abbot of the monastery.
- A “Monastery Center” is an administrative and lodging center for monks and nuns, with certain health or social conditions. The center should not get involved in any ecclesiastic services or pastoral care except the divine liturgy.
- Establishing a center for a monastery requires approval and written permission from His Holiness the Pope and/or the Bishop of the Diocese as to where the center will be established. Abbotts are to rectify situations that contradict this decision.
- Churches are obligated to follow the usual rituals of the Resurrection Re-enacting without the use of any special effects of sound, light, 3D, special theatrical effects or fog, etc.
- Lately there has been spreading of writings attributed directly or indirectly to His Holiness Pope Cyril VI, who was canonized by our church during the Holy Synod’s assembly in June 2013. In these books, the writer uses phrases like: “I partook of the Holy Sacrament before the creation of the world;” and “not by repentance or by good deeds we reach the Kingdom” also “Keeping the commandments does not lead to salvation;” and “Call on Lord Jesus and do not call St. Mary;” as well as “We will not be rewarded for good deeds and will not be punished for evil deeds.” These statements and what they represent can never be said, explained or endorsed by the departed Saint and Pope. It is for this we caution against such writings and enforce banning its distribution in the libraries of our churches and monasteries.
Recommendations of the Holy Synod Committees, May 2015
Committee of Public Relations:
- Establishing branches for “Bayt Al A’ela Al Misriya” (Home of the Egyptian Family) in each diocese.
- Encouraging the establishment of a financial support fund for Crisis management.
- Establishing a Committee for Public Relations in each diocese.
Committee of Family Affairs:
- Encourage couples considering marriage to attend a course in family counseling before marriage.
Committee of Pastoral Care and Service:
- Review the regulations of chanters and celibate consecration for a vote next November.
Committee of Media and Information:
- His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy is selected as the secretary of the Satellite Channels Committee.
- Establishing a subcommittee for printed and electronic Media. His Grace Bishop Thomas is selected as its secretary.
Committee of Faith, Education and Legislation:
- To collaborate with the committee of the Churches Abroad to produce specialized and extensively researched publications to address and answer current questions among our youth in Egypt and abroad.
Committee of the Churches Abroad:
- To highlight the identity of the Coptic Orthodox Church in all publications, documents, releases and television programs and focus on the attribute “Coptic”, emphasizing its title of “Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria”
- To elect the Holy Synod Secretariat Committee during the Holy Synod session convening in May 2016. It has been decided that the Holy Synod of the Coptic Church convenes once every year before the Feast of Pentecost and the seminar for the bishops takes place once a year before the Nativity fast.