The Anglican Primate of Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, has written to the Egyptian Ambassador asking the Government of Egypt to recognise the Anglican Church there as an independent denomination.
A recent court decision in Cairo found that the Anglican Church of Egypt came under the umbrella of the Evangelical Church Association, a Presbyterian organisation.
Dr Freier said his interactions with the Episcopal/Anglican Church of Egypt clearly showed it was an independent and self-governing church, and the court action was disturbing.
“Therefore, my sadness and concern at the unusual and unexpected court judgment issued in June of this year which ruled that the Episcopal/Anglican Church of Egypt is dependent upon the Evangelical Church Association. This is neither my experience nor my understanding,” Dr Freier wrote to the ambassador, Mr Mohamed Khairat Mahmoud Kairat.
Dr Freier said the Anglican presence in Egypt dated to the early 1800s, when the Ottoman Governor of Egypt gave land for a church in Alexandria.
“What was originally seen as a foreign church for the English-speaking community in the country has grown into an indigenous church where most services are conducted in Arabic for Egyptian congregations. Until this judgment, the Episcopal / Anglican Church of Egypt was rightly recognised as an independent church denomination,” he wrote.
He said the Egyptian church had a significant social welfare program to people regardless of nationality or religion, supported by Australian Anglicans.
“The Anglican Church in Egypt is an integral part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. I respectfully ask for your Government’s assistance in recognising the Episcopal/Anglican Church of Egypt as an independent and self-governing church denomination within the Arab Republic of Egypt.”