Prosecutors ordered a recently defrocked monk to be detained for four days pending an investigation into his alleged involvement in the death of the bishop of a prominent monastery in the desert northwest of Cairo, according to Egypt’s state news agency.
The defrocked monk, identified by his monastic name of Isaiah, confessed to collaborating with others to kill Bishop Epiphanius, abbot of St. Macarius Monastery, prosecutors said.
Isaiah’s lawyer withdrew from the case and ceased defending him, the state-run MENA reported. It remains unclear whether another lawyer will be assigned to the case.
The decision to strip Isaiah of his monkhood came August 5, a week after the abbot’s death. The Coptic Orthodox Church dismissed any connection to the Epiphanius’ death, however, saying the decision was made based on “strictly monastic reasons.”
In the early hours of July 29, Bishop Epiphanius, Abbot of Saint Macarius the Great Monastery in Wadi al-Natroun, was found dead in a hallway inside the monastery.
Former Conflicts within the Coptic Church
According to analysts, questions about a conflict within the Coptic Orthodox Church seem rather inevitable as it hard to dismiss a connection between these incidents. It is worth to mention the past conflicts within the Coptic Church, in which the monastery of Saint Macarius the Great featured prominently, and the current developments.
In fact, the latest incidents bring back to the surface the long disagreement between the late Pope Shenouda III and Father Matta al-Meskin, the late abbot of the monastery, according to Journalist Maged Atef comments on the incidents.
The Murder of Bishop Epiphanius: The Revival of Conflicts in the Monastery