CAIRO --The Standing Committee of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Middle East met in St Mark Coptic Orthodox Conference Centre – Cairo May 7 – 8. On the 9th, the meeting was presided by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and His Holiness Patriarch Zakka Iwas I of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch.

His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Orthodox Church was not able to travel from Beirut because of the special situation in Lebanon. The Committee presented its working papers to the Heads of Churches. No common declaration was issued until the Heads of Oriental Orthodox meet again. There were many issues and reports on the agenda of the meeting, regarding the relations and dialogues between the Oriental Orthodox churches in the Middle East and the Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran Churches as well as the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches

Abba Seraphim send condolence message over death of H. Em. Metropolitan Marcos

London -- Primate of the British Orthodox Church Metropolitan Seraphim sent a condolence message over the demise of His Eminence Metropolitan Marcos of the French Coptic Orthodox Church to Bishop Athanasios, Auxiliary Bishop of the Holy Metropolis of Toulon and All France, Assistant to His Eminence Marcos.

Upon hearing the news of the sudden death of His Eminence Metropolitan Marcos, Abba Seraphim wrote immediately to Bishop Athanasios,
“Having just received the sad news of the passing of my very dear brother, Abba Marcos, I write at once to offer you my heartfelt sympathy at his loss and to assure you of my prayers and those of my flock for his repose.

I am told that many of the Coptic websites in Arabic are already full of messages expressing grief at his passing and praising his many years of devoted service to the Coptic Church. I am delighted that his ministry is so widely recognised, as great responsibility for the spread of the Coptic Church in Europe belongs with him. If the Copts have much for which to thank him, then so do many others. His warm ecumenical spirit and open hearted approach to other Christians was not only a good witness to our own church but also helped others to discover the spiritual riches of the Coptic tradition. Having cared for a generation of Copts settled in France, he then extended his ministry beyond the diaspora and brought the Coptic Church to Europeans who desired to embrace the Faith.

My own memories of him over the years are many and happy. He was a generous and warm-hearted companion; gracious in his speech and manner; kind to those who sought his help; discerning of the riches of our Christian heritage, whether Eastern or Western and with a humble simplicity which drew people to him. I value the good spirit which enabled us to co-operate fully at all times, to discuss our concerns and to agree a common mind in mutual practical and prayerful support. I shall miss him.”

The New Primate of the French Coptic Orthodox Church

His Grace Athanasius




Cairo-- His Eminence Marcos (Mark), Metropolitan of the Holy Metropolis of Toulon and All France, and Primate of the French Coptic Orthodox Church (The Église Copte Orthodoxe de France), passed away on Sunday 11 May (2008-05-11).

The sudden death of His Eminence Metropolitan Marcos is a loss of a faithful son of Coptic Orthodoxy who was greatly loved and respected in ecumenical circles. His Eminence Metropolitan Marcos was consecrated a bishop of the Coptic Church on 5 May 1974 and was ordained as a Metropolitan of Toulon France in Cairo on 19 June 1994.

Although Abba Marcos had suffered health problems, including cancer, for more than a year, he continued to undertake many activities and was assiduous in witnessing to the Coptic tradition in ecumenical circles throughout Europe. He had also experienced occasional chest pains over the past year. On 6 May he and His Grace Athanasius, Auxiliary Bishop of the Holy Metropolis of Toulon and All France, Assistant to His Eminence Marcos, were scheduled to travel to Barcelona to deliver a lecture about the Coptic Church. At the last minute their driver was unable to take them by car, so they decided to take the train. It was a very comfortable wagon and Abba Marcos slept calmly for the whole journey. Upon arrival in Barcelona, he was pale and breathless complained of chest pains, so his hosts rushed him to the nearby Notre Dame du Bon Remède, where it was discovered he had suffered a severe heart attack. In hospital he was cheerful and alert and took the chance to read a book as well as resting and praying.

On Sunday morning, 11 May, Abba Athanasios had to leave Barcelona to celebrate the Liturgy for the Coptic community at Cerverabut planned to return that night. It is only then that he learned of the departure of Abba Marcos around 10.30 a.m. It was Western Pentecost.

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III sent Bishops Bassilios of the Monastery of St. Samuel at Maghagha in Minya and Abraam of the Fayoum to help and according to Abba Marcos' will, his body was transferred to Egypt to be buried at St Bishoy's Monastery.

They arrived in Cairo on 18 May and were graciously received by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, who presided at the funeral which took place in St. Mark’s Cathedral, Cairo, in the presence of a large congregation and many members of the Holy Synod.

The French Coptic Orthodox Church is integrated within the Church of Alexandria, but is considered autonomous in matter of governance.


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