Clarification 1: What about the rest of the population?
Many Copts have the impression that we thought we were the first to ever create a petition of this kind. We NEVER intended to imply anything of that nature. Our intention was NOT to ignore the sacrifices of the previous generations, but to honor them by joining their efforts in making a similar request. We want to acknowledge that we honor the work and sacrifices of the previous generations and that we value and seek their support equally as we seek the support of the youth.
We stand on the shoulders of giants – and that is a massive understatement. We know that many, both laity and clergy, have spoken to His Holiness Pope Tawadros and His Holiness Pope Shenouda III of blessed memory regarding the structure of the NJ churches over the years. We also know that in other dioceses, as well as in our state, many letters and petitions have been authored and sent anonymously.
Clarification 2: Why the anonymity? Why should we trust you?
We know and understand that our anonymity has caused many to question our motives and to suspect the integrity of the petition and its authors. The petition to His Holiness will include the names of the original writers. Without the authors’ names and your input and support, this would not be a legitimate petition. The Church would not begin any considerations without first thoroughly investigating the origins of this petition. We consider it vital to remain anonymous so that this petition can remain about its substance and not about the people who wrote it. We do not wish to compromise your decision to either support or not support this petition by revealing our identities. We are seeking impartial, honest opinions, and we hope you understand where we are coming from.
For those who have offered or are considering offering their support for the petition, we assure you that everyone’s name will remain private, public only to His Holiness who we trust will keep all information confidential.
Clarification 3: Are you not showing disobedience and disloyalty to the Pope? Are you seeking to replace the Pope with your nominations
One of the most contentious portions of our petition was the nomination of local monks. We understand that this request can be seen in various ways, and we understand why many have been discomforted. The various authors of this petition likewise heavily debated the appropriateness of this request before ultimately choosing to keep it. The bulk of this petition was more about the establishment of a diocese, rather than the nomination of specific candidates.
Throughout the history of the Church, the people have nominated candidates to be their leaders – from the lowest of the diaconate ranks to the highest Papal rank. We must make it clear that the monks we requested are not associated with this whatsoever; we understand that publicizing this request has made many uncomfortable. Likewise we can only imagine how this must have made Their Reverences feel, if they are aware of the petition.
We do not have any official knowledge of existing plans or considerations for the monks in question; we place our entire trust in His Holiness to make decisions based on his own knowledge.
By mentioning the two monks, we DID NOT intend to say that they are the ONLY candidates appropriate for us – we did not wish to sound so audacious and arrogant. We believe that the candidates in question possess the qualifications to be successful bishops, as evidenced by their services and macro-management skills, with the added benefit of being former New Jersey residents who grew up in a similar environment and interacted with the many generations of Copts in the state. We did NOT intend to give the impression that ONLY locals can be successful bishops, and we understand why many saw this as an insult. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III and His Holiness Pope Tawadros II have sent us many able bishops who have both successfully shepherded us and have become diocesan bishops. We do not seek to replace the Pope, but seek to have a local bishop that the Pope trusts in, who will be obedient and loyal to the Pope as we are. We emphasize that we trust wholeheartedly in His Holiness’ judgment, and we are completely obedient and loyal to His Holiness in all situations, and will faithfully obey him in both this decision and in all decisions. There was never a question in our hearts regarding our loyalty and obedience to His Holiness.
At the same time, we also wish to make clear that we are loyal to and obedient to His Grace Bishop David who was recently appointed to temporarily supervise the archdiocese. The petition was neither written as a response to the vacancy of His Grace Bishop Angelos nor the appointing of His Grace Bishop David. We had been working on this petition before the appointment of His Grace, and this petition is in no way associated with either event.
We apologize that our petition did not make these points clear whatsoever, and again we understand why many people could not support this petition for that reason. We apologize for not taking the due diligence to be as clear as possible. Likewise we apologize for not making it clear that these recommendations came from the authors of the petition, and not the congregants of the state, many of whom have never met the candidates in question.
So now what? Facebook and Surveys:
In the end, we understand why many have been vocally concerned about this petition. Please know that we have received the complaints of MANY people – likewise we have also received the support from many, but we are much more concerned with a solution that would fit the collective whole, and not just the segment of the state that supports us. Ultimately the goal at hand is to request the establishment of a diocese – this diocese will not be a diocese of the youth, but a diocese of ALL Copts, of ALL ages – and thus we want to continue this discussion. We are making the personal request that everyone who has discussed this petition on their own private Facebook pages, to begin posting their thoughts on our public Facebook Page. We believe it’s crucial to proceed together from this point on. If our apologies and explanations above still prove troubling, please, we especially request, make this known to us so that we can properly address it.
To increase communication, we are temporarily suspending the signing of this petition, and instead are creating a survey on our website so that EVERYONE, regardless of age or clerical rank, can ANONYMOUSLY submit their concerns and recommendations to us. We want to be as transparent to you, and most especially to His Holiness. A few wrote this petition, yes, but many have responded. This petition has no legitimacy if the people do not support it, and we will not feign support if there is none.
Again we plead, let us begin communicating with each other as we believe that there are more that unite us than divide us, and we wish to explore these thoughts during the blessed fast that we are in. Most especially, please pray for us, this petition, and the Church in New Jersey. If we do not have the blessing of God, then we ultimately have nothing. Please join us during this fast in praying most especially for wisdom regarding our future steps, and please forgive us for causing this discord.