H.G. Bishop Raphael on Heterodox Influence Among the Clergy

Are some Orthodox clergy influenced by non-Orthodox ideas? Are there even priests who explicitly teach heterodoxy? These questions were posed to H.G. Bishop Raphael, the Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church. In this video, H.G. laments that this is unfortunately true. H.G. counsels us not to be shaken at the immense popularity of such clergy, but rather to heed the examples of the crucified Christ and St Athanasius contra mundum, who insisted on the preservation of Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy at all costs for the sake of our salvation. May the Lord strengthen H.G. to continue to boldly speak the truth in love, protecting H.G. and all Orthodox Christians from the attacks of those who have fallen prey to the fleeting allure of heterodoxy – both within the Church and without.

Q: Do we have priests who are not Orthodox in thought in our Coptic church? Also, some people invite them personally to hold meetings outside the church.

A: Sorry to say that [this is true]. Jesus Christ said the Good Shepherd enters using the door, as for a thief he enters using the window. If a person has the right teaching, let him come to church and sit with us. We’ll be happy to have him over, will honour him, give him his prestige. Our church has many respectable fathers that we honour and respect. The Pope himself can honour a priest, because the priest is great at serving, ranks do not matter…

Why am I saying this? Because sometimes when we warn against someone who does not have the right teachings, they start saying that we are jealous because of his popularity. What popularity? We do not care about popularity. Popularity is equivalent to zero in our perspective. For on Palm Sunday people shouted ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ to Christ, but on the following Friday they shouted, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ Being popular does not matter, what matters is the straight path of faith. One day, they told Athanasius, the whole world is against you. Did we say, ‘He is not popular’? The whole world was about to be Arian, everyone was following Arius. Do you consider this popularity?! Of course not. In Egypt, they elected Morsi. Do you consider this popularity? Do not be deceived, the straight path of faith is the measure…

We reject anyone who is gaining popularity based on a twisted faith. They threaten us over the Internet, claiming that we are doing this or that. We do not get scared. What will they do? Kill us? It would be a blessing. If that is the worst that people can do to us, then they did us a great favour. We do not get threatened or scared. At the same time, we love everyone…

I can love a person, but I disagree with him. Aren’t we expected to love everyone, including atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc? If I see a Hindu and greet him as a friend at work, does that mean I will be one of them? If I say to him that I have the true faith while yours is not, does that mean that I hate him? We have to distinguish between truly and purely loving everyone and being so clear when it comes to faith.