Miles Windsor, Senior Manager for Strategy and Campaigns for RFI’s Middle East Action Team, recently interviewed His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in London, on the Coptic Church’s long experience and understanding of persecution. In the interview, Windsor and Angaelos discussed what the worldwide church can learn from the Coptic experience in terms of the foundations and history of Christian persecution, how to understand and respond to it, how to endure waves of trial and hardship, how to stand in defense of “spiritual kin” and how to protect religious freedom for people of all faiths.
At one point, Archbishop Angaelos stated, “Persecution has been a blessing for us and provides us with an insight, thankfully not leading us into turning in on ourselves, but actually leading us to advocate for others so that no one else experiences what we’ve experienced.”
When Windsor asked Angaelos about how persecution has contributed to the psychology and identity of the Coptic community, he explained:
I think the contribution to our identity of persecution has been a bittersweet experience. It, of course, came at an incredible cost of human life. Millions have died. Millions have died over millennia, and for no other reason but because of their faith… The way I think it’s defined us today is that it has made us hold on to faith in a particular way that transcends mere generational experience. Because if we look at the experience over the centuries, we may have experienced persecution in different ways and for different reasons, but the outcome has been the same…. That has been grounded in a Christian understanding of pain and suffering, of the Cross, of the Resurrection, and of victory, and grounded in an understanding of true forgiveness and a sincere desire for reconciliation.
Watch the full interview: