Bishop Irinej offers condolences to Coptic Orthodox Christians

In a letter of 4 January 2011, His Grace Bishop Irinej of Australia and New Zealand expressed his heartfelt prayers and extended the deepest sympathies of his clergy, monastics and faithful to His Grace Coptic Orthodox Bishop Suriel of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions and to Bishop Suriel's faithful flock which, in anticipation of the Nativity of Christ, is now in deep mourning.

Bishop Irinej wrote with regard to the recent tragic incident wherein a massive car bomb exploded in front of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Sts Mark and Peter in the Egyptian suburb of Alexandria, Sidi Beshr just after midnight on New Year's Eve, 2011. Yet again, 23 Coptic Orthodox Christians were killed because of their faith and 80 remain critically wounded. Instead of ushering in a joyous New Year of the Lord's Grace, tragedy has marred the beginning of this year for the much suffering Coptic Orthodox Church and for all who profess Christ.

In offering words of comfort during "this great test of our faith", His Grace Irinej noted that "Christ is born unto us as an innocent and helpless child (Is. 9:5-6). He places Himself in our arms that we may both learn to protect our faith through Him and in Him, as He Himself protects us."

In conclusion, Bishop Irinej offered a prayerful salutation, stating "as we prepare for the Great Feast of Nativity, may the Lord Emmanuel guide us toward the Kingdom of Heaven and keep us in our preaching of the Incarnate Love of His Gospel."