Pope Shenouda III to visit South Africa
Jay Deshmukh | Johannesburg, South Africa
02 February 2006 06:08
The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the oldest of African
churches, is scheduled to visit South Africa for four days next week.
"His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of
the See of Saint Mark ... is the only African Pope and 117th in the
Apostolic succession of Saint Mark," the Egyptian embassy said on
Consecrated as Pope in 1971, he has promoted religious tolerance,
the Coptic Church in South Africa said.
"This, for sure, has protected Egypt from national tensions, schisms
"Through the activities of the Middle East Council of Churches, an
impressive Moslem-Christian dialogue is ongoing. His Holiness has
also met the presidents, prime ministers, ministers and Islamic
leaders of Sudan, Lebanon and Syria.
"His visits have promoted tolerance, encouraged co-operation and co-
existence and have enhanced the peace process in the Middle East,
towards a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict."
The church said he supported the rights of Arabs, particularly
"His Holiness prays daily ... for peace in the Middle East."
Born in 1923, he became a monk in a desert monastery in 1954.
"He lived the life of a hermit in a solitary cave from 1956 to 1962,
dedicating his life to prayers, fasting and meditation.
"In 1962, Pope Cyril VI called him from his seclusion, ordained him
as a bishop for Christian education and assigned him Bishop of the
Coptic Theological Seminary," the church said.
On his visit from Tuesday to Friday, the Egyptian-based Pope would
visit members of the church in South Africa and looked forward to
meeting South African leaders, the embassy said.
"His Holiness will preside at the consecration of the Saint Mark
Coptic Cathedral in Johannesburg."
From South Africa he will proceed to the conference of the World
Council of Churches (WCC) in Brazil.
Pope Shenouda has served as a president of the WCC. - Sapa