Who are the Coptic Christians? A tragic church deals a blow to a persecuted group
Because it rejected the Council of Chalcedon of 451, the Coptic Orthodox Church does not recognize the Catholic Pope and instead has its own Pope, who is the Bishop of Alexandria and claims the apostolic succession of St. Mark .
Its highest form of worship, akin to the Catholic Mass, is the Divine Liturgy.
The Coptic Orthodox Church, an Eastern Orthodox Church, should not be confused with the Coptic Catholic Church, which is an Eastern Rite Church in full communion with Rome. The majority of Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up about 10% of the total population, is made up of Coptic Orthodox Christians, along with some Maronite and Latin Rite Catholics.
Why are they persecuted?
Coptic Christians have been a frequent target of terrorism in Egypt, especially since the rise of the Islamic State. Beyond general anti-Christian sentiment among Muslims, Egypt’s Copts have been accused by their Muslim neighbors of aiding the rise to power of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came to power after ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood in a military coup in 2013 and which enjoyed public support from Coptic leaders.
In February 2015, the Islamic State released a video online showing masked fighters beheading 21 men as they knelt on a Libyan beach wearing prison-style orange jumpsuits. The Egyptian government and the Coptic Orthodox Church later confirmed the authenticity of the video, and the men are now honored as saints in the Coptic Church.