His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church
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Our television screens and newspapers have been filled with images of what has been referred to as the Arab spring. While sounding wonderfully refreshing, what this really means is a significant change at every level within very defined and established societies.
Within this context there is an idealised expectation that there will be in the short or long term, a democracy that changes how these societies deal with one another, and, within themselves, with their own citizens.
Anyone who has visited the Middle East will know that religion and faith cannot be easily divided from the day to day lived identity of most people, and so the current situation has given rise to many looking upon their religious background as the primary source of that identity, while ethnicity follows as a distant second.
If we are to listen to the most progressive and visionary residents of the Middle East, we would hear them say that even though their religion is of the utmost importance to determining who they are, they would much rather see their own nation states as places that deal with them as equal and equally valued members of their societies, having recognised certain rights and expectations as common to everyone
For Christians in the Middle East, their situation is now becoming more difficult as the previous oligarchic regimes are being replaced by more religiously founded systems, that in their perspective leave them with even less potential to live as equal citizens of a unified societies.
As we celebrate this feast of the Nativity, and the supreme act of love of God for the whole of humanity, we pray that this equal and unambiguous love can be one that is demonstrated felt and lived by equal members of strong cohesive and peaceful communities.