Two of the victims are said to be police officers. A gunman with explosive belt was also shot dead. The target was the Mar Mina church in Helwan, south of Cairo. Fearing attacks, the authorities have been on a high state of alert for days.

Cario (AsiaNews) – At least ten people have been killed and twenty wounded in an attack on a Coptic Orthodox church this morning in Helwan, an area south of Cairo.

Two of the victims were said to be be police officers. One gunman was shot dead by security forces (pictured). Although information remains uncertain, a second gunman appears to have escaped and is still at large.

The target of the attack was the Mar Mina Coptic Church, which was preparing to celebrate Orthodox Christmas on 7 January.

The authorities have been on a high state of alert for days in fear of possible attacks, with rapid reaction forces deployed.

Eyewitnesses said that security forces defused an explosive belt that was fasten around the dead gunman. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A group of Catholics was visiting the neighbourhood for the traditional exchange of good wishes with local Christian families.

Sources told AsiaNews that police sealed the area, blocking access. Visitors already there were asked to leave the area "immediately".

In a nation of almost 95 million people with a large Muslim majority, Coptic Christians are a substantial minority of around 10 per cent of the population.

Last year the country aw a series of bloody attacks, some involving Christians. The escalation of violence almost led to the cancellation of Pope Francis’s apostolic journey to Egypt last April.

However, the pontiff was able to visit the country where he met with its president and the great imam of al-Azhar and celebrated Mass before tens of thousands of people.

Meanwhile, Catholic Christmas took place amid tight security measures, but no incidents were reported as crowds filled the churches.

Now “the celebrations of the Coptic Orthodox Church can be held,” Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, told AsiaNews. “The alarm levels are high, an attempt at attack can never be ruled out,” which is what happened today. (DS)

Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Gunmen-attack-Coptic-church-south-of-Cairo,-killing-ten-and-wounding-at-least-20-42701.html


Teachings of Christ

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

Encounter

Rejoice, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. * Rejoice also, you righteous Elder; * for you received in your arms the Deliverer of our souls, * Who has given us resurrection. (Troparion, Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Christ God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin's womb; * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. * Now, having come, you saved us. * Give peace to Your commonwealth in times of war * and strengthen our civil authorities, whom You have loved, O You who alone loves mankind. (Kontakion, Tone 1)

(The Feast of the Encounter is February 2nd - the 40th Day of Christmas)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you." (Proverbs 3:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and that "the eyes of the Lord are looking on the good and the evil in every place." But we should believe this especially without any doubt when we are assisting at the Work of God. To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet's words, "Serve the Lord in fear" and again, "Sing praises wisely" and "In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to Thee." Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves in the sight of the Godhead and of His Angels, and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way that our mind may be in harmony with our voice. 

St. Benedict