Support groups for clergy sex abuse victims openly ask Coptic Bishops for an explanation
(For Immediate Release September 28, 2022)
Coptic Survivor and SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, wrote to two Coptic bishops yesterday. The advocates want the prelates to explain the exact nature of the complaints behind the removal of a Maryland priest from ministry in 2013. The advocates have heard that the complaints involved the sexual abuse of children and targeted adults. They are concerned because the cleric is now pastoring at a church in South Carolina.
Fr. Guirguis Ghobrial, AKA Fr. George Gobrail, was removed from ministry at St. Mary Coptic Church in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2013 following “complaints." The exact nature of those “complaints” was not explained in the announcement removing the priest from St. Mary “to preserve the confidentiality and the dignity of the priesthood.” However, Coptic Survivor has been told that the complaints accused Fr. Guirguis of sexual abuse.
Fr. Guirguis is now in ministry at Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church in Greenville, South Carolina. However, members of the faithful in that parish had heard that Maryland complaints involved sexual abuse and were also alarmed by certain actions taken by Fr. Guirguis in their church. They reached out to Bishop Peter, head of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky, and Bishop Youssef of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States, who investigated the Maryland complaints. The church members did not receive any response from Bishop Peter, and Bishop Youssef merely said that “I trust the wisdom of Bishop Peter.”
Coptic Survivor and SNAP are now openly giving the two bishops an opportunity to supply clarification about the exact nature of the Maryland complaints so that members of the South Carolina parish can be assured that Fr. Guirguis does not present a risk to church members or to the public.
The complete text of the letter, sent by email on September 28, 2022, to Bishop Peter of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky and Bishop Youssef of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States is attached as a PDF.
Fr. Guirguis Ghobrial, AKA Fr. George Gobrail
Fr. Guirguis Ghobrial Timeline:
August 1957: Fr. Guirguis born in Cairo, Egypt
1970’s/80’s: During college, Fr. Guirguis worked in the youth and elementary ministry at St. George and St. Sarabamon Church in Cairo
1986: Fr. Guirguis married on October 7, and was ordained a priest less than 2 months later on December 5, 1986; his son was born in 1987
Aug 10, 1995: Fr. Guirguis assigned by Pope Shenouda to work at St.Mary’s Church in Savage, MD, as the first/head priest to work in this parish
July 4, 2012: Fr. Guirguis is elevated to the high rank of priesthood - “Hegomen”
Jan/Feb 2013: Pope Tawadros receives “complaints” about Fr. Guirguis; Pope Tawadros assigns Bishop Thomas to investigate in Virginia along with Bishop Youssef and Fr. Botros Samy
Apr 14, 2013: Letter written by Bishop Youssef distributed to church members (see attached); indicates “after thorough investigation and making sure that those complaints are correct, His Holiness [Pope Tawadros] has made a decision to terminate all the pastoral and priestly service of Fr. Guirguis Ghobrial.”
May 2015: Photos of Fr. Guirguis working in Louisville, Kentucky
Sept 2015: Fr. Guirguis assigned to work at Archangel Michael Coptic Church in Greenville, South Carolina.
Sept 2017: Fr. Guirguis was last seen in Greenville around this time
Oct 2017/Nov 2018: Reports that Fr. Guirguis was moving around and working in Bishop Peter’s Diocese of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky, and traveled to Egypt
Nov 2018/May 2021: Photos of Fr. Guirguis working in Louisville, Kentucky
Jun 2021/Jun 2022: Reports of Fr. Guirguis in Egypt
Jun/Jul 2022: Fr. Guirguis returns to work as a priest at Archangel Michael church in Greenville, SC; but his name has been changed from “Fr. Guirguis Ghobrial” to “Fr. George Gobrail.” Concerned church members reach out to Bishop Youssef and Bishop Peter
- Studied at the Coptic Seminary in Cairo
- Master’s Degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from Loyola University-Maryland
- Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies (Old Testament) from Lancaster Bible College-Pennsylvania
- Reportedly working on a degree in Strategic Leadership at Lancaster Bible College
- Member of SBL (Society of Biblical Literature)
- Founder and president of Christ Ambassadors Mission, a non-profit organization
Contact: Sally Zakhari, Founder and CEO of Coptic Survivor President of Coptic Survivor, SNAP Leader (+1(407) 758-4874, [email protected]) Melanie Jula Sakoda SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator, SNAP Orthodox Leader (+1(925) 708-6175, [email protected])