It is with great sadness that I write this as I have a deep love for the Coptic Orthodox Church. However, the truth is the truth and it must be said as what benefit is the truth if it remain hidden. As many of you know I am a covert to the faith of about 8 years. Recently there has been some turmoil within our diocese, which consists of only one church. Through this I have gotten a glimpse of the state of the church and in this it became clear to me why the church is struggling, why it is bleeding youth, and why it has difficulty evangelizing without compromising its theology and practice. If the church continues the path it is on, it will not be recognizable 50 years from now. It may have a few remnants of Orthodoxy but for the most part people of today will not be able to know a Coptic Orthodox Church from a western protestant church.
We see many churches employing western methods and westernized protestant songs into their service. We see many preachers now taking the protestant style sermon that has a lot of emotion but little depth. We see priests abusing their position and other clergy protecting them as opposed to disciplining or outright defrocking them. We have a leadership that is detached from the people, that see themselves as lording over the people rather than serving them. Coming to a clergymans rescue despite the fact that he has brutalized congregation after congregation. We see these things happening and the leadership is unable or unwilling to do anything about it. The protestantization of the church is a huge issue, one that is being all but ignored by the leadership of the church. By simply singing these protestant songs we are equating them to Orthodoxy, by doing that we are validating the source. Is protestantism equal to Orthodoxy? Hardly. We have to remember that this is a different religion entirely and it teaches against everything we deem necessary for salvation. I am sorry to be so brutally honest but if you deny the body and blood of Christ then you are denying Him. How can you deny Him and yet consider yourself to be Christian? But, if we tell our youth, and the rest of the people that are protestantizing, that this is acceptable then what is stopping them from leaving? If protestantism is truly the same then why fast 210 days out of the year when you can fast 0 days and get the same result? This is the danger that we are facing the the leadership is too weak and ineffectual to do anything about it.
The other problem is the backward minded clergy. Now granted there are numerous good clergy who do a fantastic job but there are also numerous backward minded priests who seem more concerned with their own authority than they do serving the people in their congregation. This leads to friction and strife amongst the people as the priest acts as a dictator rather than a shepherd and beats his sheep into compliance rather than love them and guide them with a steady hand. These priests seem only to care about their authority and abuse the priesthood for their own personal gain. I honestly cannot decide if some of these clergy are dictators or tyrants, either way its not good. The other issue with clergy, which is directly related to their tyrannical mindset is the fact that they are unbelievably difficult to get a hold of. One bishop in particular I called, emailed, and texted over 300 times. Not once was an email, text, or phone call returned. In fact I had to drive over four hours to ambush him at a monastery just to talk to him about the issues in our diocese. The evidence was presented to him and he assured us that he would take care of the situation, only to completely reverse his decision the very next day. This seems common place amongst Coptic Clergy, tell somebody one thing and then do another. I have seen this over and over as if its a cultural tradition to lie to someones face.
Unless the leadership grows a spine and takes action the Coptic Orthodox Church is utterly doomed. Its slow progression towards oblivion seems inevitable, barring another miracle in the form of a saint the likes of St Pope Kyrillos 6th. Unfortunately I do not see this happening and the churches decline into oblivion inevitable. The leadership even acknowledges there is a problem, putting out a survey asking the entire church why people are leaving the church. It is such a big issue that the leadership actually did something, so it must be big if they actually acted. God willing the church will see the light and come out of the ignorance imprisoning it.