International News

Egyptian Priest Asks Christians to Remain

CAIRO (CNS) – Egypt’s Christians should stay in their country and help it progress instead of taking “the easy way” of emigrating abroad, said a senior member of the country’s Catholic Church.

Father Rafic Greiche, head of the Catholic Church press office in Egypt, expressed concern Nov. 20 that hundreds of thousands of Christians have left for other countries since 2011, when a popular revolution ended the nearly 30-year secular rule of former autocratic president, Hosni Mubarak.

Those who are leaving “are the most educated,” Father Greiche said. “We need them to invest, not only their money but also their energy and as Christians they have the duty to be missionaries in their own country.”

Since Mubarak’s ouster, Egypt has witnessed military rule, the rise of democratically-elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and then his overthrow by the military in July after millions of Egyptians protested his leadership. An interim government installed by the military now rules.

Father Greiche said foreign embassies in Egypt reported that as many as 300,000 Christians had left the country so far but that the exact number was hard to confirm because many of those leaving had second passports and did not inform the Church that they were emigrating.

“There are sometimes legitimate reasons, but most of the people, at the first problem, they leave. They take their American passport and go,” Father Greiche said.

After the 2011 downfall of Mubarak, violence increased in Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country in North Africa of more than 80 million people.

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