Agenzia Fides REPORT – A fire has destroyed the church of the Catholic Copts in the village of Hagazah, Quena Province, Upper Egypt, in the Diocese of Tebe - Luxor. Fides was informed of the event through Bishop Joannes Zakaria, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Luxor, Egypt.
Towards one o'clock in the morning of Monday, September 6, 2010, I received a dozen phone calls to inform me that a major fire had broken out in the village church of Hagazah," Bishop Zakaria told Fides. "When I arrived in Hagazah, I saw that the fire had destroyed the entire church building and that nothing had been spared."
"In the days that followed, I met with government authorities, and police chiefs, who informed me that the fire had been caused by a short circuit. During the meeting, I asked their permission to prepare a provisional arrangement to celebrate Mass next Sunday for the 600 Catholic Copts living in the village of Hagazah, but unfortunately they have responded negatively," said the Bishop of Luxor.
"This village has a difficult history of violence, tribulation, and not very good relations between Christians and Muslims," Bishop recalls Zakaria
The Coptic Catholic Church in Hagazah was founded by the Franciscan Friars Minor in 1890.
"It is worth noting that this is the third fire in my diocese. Three years ago, the third floor of the Bishop's Residence in Luxor was burned, and a year ago, part of the house of the Franciscan Sisters Minor of the Sacred Heart was burned, in the city of Isna. This year, the Catholic Church in the village of Hagazah was burnt. In all three cases, the cause of the fire was always a short circuit," says Bishop Zakaria.
"We – myself, the poor parish priest, and the 600 Coptic Catholic faithful of Hagazah - need your prayers and your solidarity, so that our courage may not fail and so that our Good Lord will help us to continue to live and witness to our faith in love and peace," concluded the Bishop of Luxor.