Meetings at the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Centre

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Thu, 2023-03-16
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On Tuesday, March 14th, I joined my predecessor at Dialogue Across Borders, Cornelis Hulsman, for meetings with Bishop Ermia [Irmiyyā], General Bishop and President of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Centre, and Guirgis Saleh [Jirjis Ṣāliḥ], Professor of Old Testament at the Coptic Theological Seminary and Director of Ecumenical Relations and Dialogue at the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Centre. Based on the grounds of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in ʿAbbāsiyya, Cairo, the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Centre is among the most significant institutions in the world for studying and promoting the rich legacy of Coptic Orthodox Christianity.


Meeting with Bishop Ermia at COCC


In our meeting with Bishop Ermia, we discussed his work as the secretary general of  the Egyptian Family House (Bayt al-ʿĀʾilah al-Miṣriyya), an organization that was established in 2011 by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Pope to strengthen Muslim-Christian relations and help resolve sectarian tensions in Egypt. We also spoke with the bishop about our desire to publish more perspectives from the next generation of Coptic leaders on Dialogue Across Borders.


Professor Guirgis Saleh


We continued our conversation about the Egyptian Family House with Professor Guirgis Saleh who informed us that the organization was first proposed after the bombing of the al-Qiddīsayn Church in Alexandria on January 1, 2011. Among other roles, Professor Saleh leads the “Emergency Committee” for the organization and often responds to sectarian crises when they first develop. He stressed the importance of having strong personal relations with leading Christians and Muslims as well as security personnel across the country in order to deal with crises when they occur. Professor Saleh expressed that in his view relations between Christians and Muslims presently were perhaps as strong as they ever have been.


We also spoke with Professor Saleh about his work at the Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary. He estimated that perhaps 100 students were presently studying at the Cairo campus, many of whom would pursue ordination. In a four-year program, students take courses in systematic theology, church history, languages (Greek, Hebrew, Coptic), philosophy, and liturgy, among other academic offerings. We also briefly discussed with Professor Saleh the many writings of a prominent Coptic Orthodox scholar, Archpriest Tādrus Malaṭī (b.1937). Based in Alexandria, Malaṭī is one of the most prolific and important Coptic scholars living today, having published dozens of books in biblical interpretation, church history, and general Coptic interest.

Stacks of Archpriest Malaṭī’s writings on sale in a bookshop on the cathedral grounds


We are very grateful for the generous hospitality shown to us by Bishop Ermia and Professor Saleh and look forward to greater collaboration in the future.


With best wishes,

Matthew Anderson

Executive Editor

Dialogue Across Borders


March 16, 2023