Pro-Gay Pope Creates New Christian Schism From Church That Stood Up to ISIS

By Raymond Ibrahim Published on March 16, 2024

The theological schisms that had a dramatic impact on church history are, unfortunately, not a thing of the past. At a time when various Christian bodies have been trying to reconcile and heal centuries-old rifts and misunderstandings, a new break is currently taking place — this time concerning “a landmark ruling approved last December by Pope Francis that Roman Catholic priests can administer blessings to same-sex couples.”

Unsurprisingly, many Christians have expressed shock and disappointment over this declaration. According to a March 9 report:

The document has encountered an unprecedented level of opposition within the Catholic Church, with bishops’ conferences in Africa, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary and individual dioceses, including nine in France and many more across the United States and the rest of the world, saying they would refuse anything that appears to be a blessing of a homosexual couple.

The Russian Orthodox Church said this innovation reflects “a sharp departure from Christian moral teaching.” Hilarion Alfeyev, the current metropolitan of Budapest and Hungary, who closely examined the Vatican’s declaration, described it as “a kind of shock,” adding:

We always cite the Catholic Church as a beacon of traditional Christianity … the Church which always supports the traditional Christian values and moral teaching in spite of the fact that from many different angles it is attacked for this traditionalism and stubbornness … . Everyone now will believe that the Church blesses homosexual couples … [The declaration] deceives those who receive such a blessing and those who witness it.

Quite so.

50 Years of Work Reuniting Christians Trashed

Now the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt is the latest to object — to the point of suspending the amicable dialogue it began with the Catholic Church in 1973 (after a hiatus of some fifteen centuries). On March 7, 2024, Coptic Pope Tawadros II led a synod in which the following decree was pronounced:

After consulting with the sister churches of the Eastern Orthodox family, it was decided to suspend the theological dialogue with the Catholic Church, reevaluate the results achieved by the dialogue from its beginning twenty years ago, and establish new standards and mechanisms for the dialogue to proceed in the future … .

The Coptic Orthodox Church affirms its firm position of rejecting all forms of homosexual relationships, because they violate the Holy Bible and the law by which God created man as male and female, and the Church considers any blessing of such relations, whatever its type, to be a blessing for sin, and this is unacceptable.

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The same synod document contains a lengthy section titled “The Belief of the Coptic Orthodox Church on the Issue of Homosexuality,” which explains through numerous biblical verses why homosexuality and other forms of “perversion” must never be normalized, and offers counseling to those who suffer from this malady, before reaffirming:

[T]he Coptic Orthodox Church rejects what is called sexual perversion in its general and comprehensive understanding, and all types of sexual practices outside the sacred framework of marriage. It categorically rejects invoking the idea of different cultures to justify same-sex relations within what is called “absolute human freedom,” which causes the destruction of humanity. The Church, while affirming its complete belief in [personal] human rights and freedom, also affirms that the freedom of the created is not absolute to the point of transgressing and breaking the laws of the Creator.

The Church also affirms its adherence to its pastoral role in helping its children who suffer from homosexual tendencies, as well as not rejecting them, but to provide support and assistance to them in order to reach psychological and spiritual healing, placing its trust in its Christ, the Holy One, who is able to heal, change, and develop in ways more than what we ask or envision.

A Historic Opportunity Squandered

To unity-minded Christians around the world, surely this is a great shame: a schism between the Coptic and Catholic churches occurred in 451, and it took more than 15 centuries before the two  reopened communications in the late twentieth century on the understanding that the original schism — how best to articulate the nature of Christ — was more of a semantic than substantive nature. As Agence I.Media reports:

This announcement comes shortly after the 20th anniversary of the founding of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches … .

Just on February 15, the Vatican had sponsored

an ecumenical prayer in St. Peter’s Basilica for the first commemoration of the 21 Christian martyrs from Libya recognized by the Catholic Church on May 11 following a visit by Tawadros II to the Vatican. These were the first saints recognized by the two Churches since their break-up in the 5th century.

But now all progress made toward rapprochement has been sacrificed on Francis’s altar to homosexuality. For all his ecumenical talk, it seems that he is more interested in giving a nod to sexual deviancy rather than uniting around Christ.

A Church of Martyrs

Why has the Coptic Church so unabashedly halted dialogue with the Catholic Church? The Egyptian church is the quintessential Church of Martyrs, not of compromise. Past and present, the Christians of Egypt have borne the brunt of persecution. Most Christians killed during the worst bout of Roman persecution — the “Great Persecution” (303-313) — were Egyptians, according to Eusebius’s history. He mentions “dozens” and even “hundreds” slaughtered on any given day during this decade.

Then came Islam in 640. Centuries of persecution, violence, slaughter, enslavement of women and children, and extortion of jizya caused Egypt to go from one of the largest and most important Christian nations to one of the largest and most important Muslim nations, where its most indigenous inhabitants — the Copts — continue to be persecuted in atrocious ways.

The Muslim historian al-Maqrizi indicates how and why Egypt became Islamic. He notes that during one particularly savage bout of persecution in the eleventh century, some 30,000 churches in Egypt and Greater Syria were destroyed or turned into mosques. Thousands of Christians were slaughtered or enslaved. He concludes: “Under these circumstances a great many Christians became Muslims.” (One can almost hear a triumphant “Allahu Akbar!” For more on the systemic persecution of Copts throughout history, see Adel Guindy’s A Sword Over the Nile: A Brief History of Copts Under Islamic Rule.)

Egypt’s Christians continue to be martyred in the modern era, including but not limited to the twenty-one who were ritually decapitated on the shores of Sirte, Libya, in 2015, for refusing to recant Christ for Muhammad. (True to their nature, U.S. media gave six times its coverage of that slaughter to the killing of Harambe the gorilla.)

Of all churches, the Church of Martyrs is not about to water down its principles.

“They Will Persecute You Also”

A final observation: Is it because they refuse to embrace worldly teachings that various ancient Christian communities — including the Armenians and Assyrians, who have both experienced genocides, past and present — continue to be persecuted? After all, the New Testament is clear that persecution is in store for Christians, who oppose the lures and demands of the world. On the other hand, those who — knowingly or unknowingly — embrace the world are more than safe from persecution. As Christ succinctly put it,

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:19-20)

Pope Francis has normalized unnatural relations in keeping with the world’s standards, not God’s. Perhaps this is best summed up in the words of the Apostle Paul:

Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13)


Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West and Sword and Scimitar, is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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