The Coptic Church: From a Spiritual Space to a Catalyst of Identity

Anis Issa

PhD researcher in religious sociology at the École pratique des hautes études (EPHE)

The Coptic Church is considered one of the oldest entities in the history of the Mediterranean, and the oldest in Egypt. Saint Mark established the Coptic Church in Egypt, so when the country was under the pagan Roman Empire, Copts converted to Christianity. Since then, they have fought to keep on existing, to maintain their presence, their interactions and their identity, which has a very strong narrative. The Coptic Church plays a crucial role in this process, especially since the Coptic migration waves from Egypt in the 20th-century, creating an international diaspora. In 1962, Pope Cyril VI established the first General Bishopric for Public, Ecumenical and Social Services in the history of the Coptic Church. This network had two main goals: supporting the Coptic migrants abroad and raising funds for development projects in Egypt for youths and limited-income families. Thus, the different dioceses in the diaspora became a place to gather and find support. Today, the Coptic Church has a historic opportunity not only to survive the challenge but to flourish and experience a universal expansion.

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