FILE - Former Monk Ash’eyaa el-Makary
CAIRO – 10 August 2018: A reliable source in the prosecution office in Wadi al-Natrun denied any link between former Monk Ash’eyaa el-Makary, who was stripped of his sacerdotal rank on Sunday, and the murder of Bishop Epiphanius that took place in late July.
Many media outlets have revealed that public prosecution decided on Sunday to hold in custody the expelled monk Ash’eyaa of the St. Macarius Monastery after he confessed to the murder of Bishop Epiphanius, head of St. Macarius Monastery
They claimed that the monk admitted he killed Epiphanius by hitting him with an iron stick weighing about 12 kilograms on the head.
The case of the murder of Bishop Epiphanius was transferred on Friday to the Court of Appeals of Alexandria to investiagate.
Bishop Epiphanius was found dead on July 29 inside his monastery. Afterwards, the Coptic Church of Alexandria decided to strip Ash’eyaa of the St. Macarius Monastery of his rank after investigating him for the “inappropriate actions” he committed which contradict monastic behavior and life.
The church’s statement did not explain the "inappropriate actions" committed by Ash’eyaa; instead, it expelled him from the St. Macarius Monastery in Wadi El-Natrun, to return to his birth name, Wael Saad.
In a statement signed by Pope Tawadros II, the Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, the Orthodox Church revealed that a monastic investigation was conducted with Ash’eyaa by a special committee formed by the Monastic Committee and the Monasteries Affairs of the Holy Synod.
The Coptic Church spokesperson Boules Halim denied any links between the expulsion of Ash'eyaa and the murder, saying that the investigation is still ongoing.
Ash’eyaa tried to commit suicide a day after, and he was detained at the monastery's clinic in Beheira governorate’s Natrun valley, but was released following the prosecution’s order. He reportedly used poison in his suicide attempt.
On the same day Ash’eyaa attempted to kill himself, Faltaous al-Makary, another monk in his mid-thirties, deliberately slit his wrist and then jumped off a high building inside the monastery, according to a source in the church that refused to give a name.
St. Macarius Monastery has had a special status for decades. Late father Matta el-Meskeen (1919-2006) spent much of his later years there, granting it semi-independence from late Pope Shenouda (1923-2012). The two great Coptic icons were at odds ideologically, where el-Meskeen was considered more on the progressive side.
The monastery’s monks are generally known for their deep knowledge and spirituality.
After Father Matta el-Meskeen’s death, monks affiliated with Pope Shenouda’s school joined the monastery. Faltaous al-Makary and Wael Saad Tawadros belong to the waves of monks who joined the monastery following el-Meskeen’s death.