Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb has informed Pope Tawadros II, who is currently in the Netherlands, that the General Authority For Roads, Bridges & Land Transport has started to build a new road that is scheduled to link Fayoum to the oasis, adding that the road will pass through the Macarius Monastery in Wadi al-Rayan.
The illegal construction of a monastery wall west of Cairo has stirred up conflict between the priests and the authorities who are planning to take it down in order to construct a new road in the area.
Sources from the church said Mehleb told the pope the government will not change the path of the road 4 km away from the monastery, as rumored, and that the road will be established as planned. Meanwhile, the pope expressed to Mehleb the church’s support to national developmental projects which serve the citizens, adding that the government has the legal right to handle the problem while preserving the holy and archaeological nature of the place.
A statement by the church said it called on residents living on lands they do not own to consider the public interest.
Priest Boules al-Rayany, however, said, “Monks from the monastery will not leave it. They will let the road divide the monastery over their dead bodies.”
Maspero Youth Union member Andrawos Eweida said, “Coptic groups will take action to prevent the government from dividing the monastery.”
In March, Pope Tawadros II admitted that the priests at the Macarius Monastery occupied the monastery illegally and that the ancient monastery does not follow the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm