Coptic Pope Tawadros II on Saturday urged Washington to no longer recognise a priest accused of paedophilia who had reportedly worked in the US as a member of his church.
“We notify all the civic authorities in Egypt and in the United States… to revoke any recognition of Yousef Aziz Khalil as a priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church,” the pope wrote in a statement posted on Facebook, without specifying Khalil’s current location.
The rare move comes amid a resurgence of the #MeToo movement in Egypt after a sex scandal implicating a member of the country’s wealthy elite.
Social media in the country and in the Egyptian diaspora have been flooded with thousands of testimonies of sexual assault.
Among them are Coptic Egyptians living in the United States who have accused Khalil, whose priestly name is Reweiss Aziz Khalil, of paedophilia and denounced the church for being slow to act.
The church had defrocked Khalil in 2014 for “repeated infringements that are unacceptable to the priesthood and its ministry”, the Coptic pope said in his statement, without elaborating.
Khalil, “is hereby laicised and must return to his former pre-ordination name”, the statement said.
“He is hereby stripped of his priestly rank.”
The largest Christian minority in the Middle East, Copts make up between 10 and 15 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of over 100 million.