The reason why firearms officers from the Metropolitan police were in Steyne Gardens on Monday has been revealed.
A police riot van and dog unit were joined my firearms officers in Worthing on Monday as protection for a visit by Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Several officers attended Steyne Gardens for a ‘visit’, firearms officer PC Evans said at the scene.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “There is a private visit taking place by a visiting dignitary who is accompanied by Metropolitan Police officers.
“Sussex Police are providing support to the visit, which is only scheduled to last for around 20 minutes.”
However police were unable to themselves confirm the identity of the visitor.
But a spokesperson for the Coptic Orthodox Church confirmed it was Pope Tawadros II, who visited Worthing as part of a tour of the UK.
The Pope visited the Cornerstone Methodist Church in Brighton Road.
The fact that the property is currently for sale prompts questions of whether the Church plans to open a branch in Worthing.
The Coptic Orthodox Church was founded in Egypt in the first century and, according to its website, has the largest Christian presence in the Middle East.
The Church counts between ten and 15 million faithful in Egypt, with around 20,000 in the UK.
Speaking ahead of the Pope’s visit, Bishop Angaelos, one of three Coptic bishops in the UK, said: “This is a historic visit for His Holiness Pope Tawadros as his first engagement with his flock across Britain.
“For Coptic Christians here, it will be an opportunity to spend time with the head of their Church, and their spiritual father.
“This has been a difficult year for Christians in Egypt with recent and ongoing attacks, and thus the visit will also be an opportunity for their brothers and sisters to hear directly from His Holiness about the situation there, and how they can provide greater support for them.”
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