Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church declared that it will no longer accept new monks into its monasteries for one year following an abbot’s mysterious death.
The church said that its bar on new monks goes into effect immediately, along with several other directives concerning the behavior and lifestyle of current monks. The church’s directives came after the funeral of Bishop Epiphanius, abbot of St. Macarius Monastery, who was found dead in front of his monastic cell Sunday lying in a pool of blood with the back of his head crushed. An investigation into his death is currently under way. (RELATED: Gunmen Target Egyptian Christians, Shoot Down Man In Sinai)
The church has also ordered all monks to shut down their social media accounts within a month, saying that having them is incompatible with the monastic lifestyle, and has also warned that any monks who appear on media outside of interactions assigned by their monasteries could potentially be defrocked.
Boulis Halim, spokesman for Egypt’s Coptic Church, claimed that the new directives have nothing to do with Epiphanius’ death, despite the timing of their issuing, according to The Associated Press. Halim said that the directives are simply meant to help instill the discipline necessary for adhering to a monastic life.
As for the death of Epiphanius, the church announced that the circumstances of his death warranted an investigation. Public prosecutors said as of Tuesday that the investigation is ongoing.
“Due to the shadowy circumstances surrounding the details of his departure, official investigations by formal parties have commenced, and questioning is now underway regarding this matter. We await what the results of these investigations will reveal,” the Church wrote in a statement, according to Egypt Independent.
Preliminary investigation, along with the nature of Epiphanius’ head wound, suggested murder as the cause.
Pope Tawadros II, the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, presided over Epiphanius’ funeral after his autopsy was completed.
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