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New Coptic pope selected in Egypt

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  • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/1104/breaking5.html   New Coptic pope selected in Egypt Egypt s Coptic Orthodox church held a sumptuous
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 4, 2012
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      http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/1104/breaking5.html
       
      New Coptic pope selected in Egypt
      Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church held a sumptuous service today to choose its new pope, Bishop Tawadros, who Christians hope will help them navigate an Islamist-dominated political landscape and protect what is the Middle East's biggest Christian community.

      In a ritual steeped in tradition and filled with prayer, chants and incense at Abbasiya cathedral in Cairo, the names of three candidates chosen in a vote were placed in a wax sealed glass bowl.

      A blindfolded child later pulled the winner's name out at random.
      Bishop Tawadros, a 60-year old who qualified as a pharmacist before entering the priesthood, was the eventual winner.

      The two other candidates were Bishop Rafael, a 54-year old who qualified as a doctor before entering the priesthood, and Father Rafael Afamena, a 70-year old monk who studied law before entering the priesthood.

      Copts believe this long-established selection process ensures that worldly influences do not determine the successor to Pope Shenouda III, who led the church for four decades until he died in March aged 88.

      Many Christians in Egypt, who make up about a tenth of the population of 83 million, are worried by political gains made by Islamists since Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year. They have long complained of discrimination in Muslim-majority Egypt.

      "We pray that our Lord chooses a good shepherd," interim Pope Bakhomious, who has temporarily held the post since Shenouda's death, said in his gold-embroidered white robes after placing the names in the bowl and sealing it with hot red wax.

      "We are all witnesses before the Lord," he told the congregation in the packed cathedral in the centre of Cairo, where priests swung censers that wafted incense into
      the air.

      Voters whittled the candidates down to three from a field which included leading members of the church, public figures and a handful of representatives of the Ethiopian Church, which has historic links to the church in Egypt.

      That ballot was held last week. Echoing the worries of many of Egypt's Copts, shopkeeper Michael George said before the service: "Christians fear the Islamists' rule especially because their presence is encouraging radicals to act freely."

      Since Mubarak was ousted, there have been several attacks on churches by radical Islamists. Those incidents have fuelled longstanding complaints that Christians are sidelined in the workplace and in law.

      Rules that make it harder to obtain official permission to build a church rather than a mosque have added to those fears.

      The Muslim Brotherhood, the mainstream Islamist movement that propelled president Mohamed Mursi to power, has sworn to guard the
      rights of Christians in the overwhelmingly majority Sunni Muslim nation.
      Reuters

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • John Brian
      http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/1104/breaking5.html New Coptic pope selected in Egypt Egypt s Coptic Orthodox church held a sumptuous service
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 4, 2012
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        http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/1104/breaking5.html

        New Coptic pope selected in Egypt

        Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church held a sumptuous service today to choose its
        new pope, Bishop Tawadros, who Christians hope will help them navigate an
        Islamist-dominated political landscape and protect what is the Middle East's
        biggest Christian community.

        In a ritual steeped in tradition and filled with prayer, chants and incense
        at Abbasiya cathedral in Cairo, the names of three candidates chosen in a
        vote were placed in a wax sealed glass bowl.

        A blindfolded child later pulled the winner's name out at random.

        Bishop Tawadros, a 60-year old who qualified as a pharmacist before entering
        the priesthood, was the eventual winner.

        The two other candidates were Bishop Rafael, a 54-year old who qualified as
        a doctor before entering the priesthood, and Father Rafael Afamena, a
        70-year old monk who studied law before entering the priesthood.

        Copts believe this long-established selection process ensures that worldly
        influences do not determine the successor to Pope Shenouda III, who led the
        church for four decades until he died in March aged 88.

        Many Christians in Egypt, who make up about a tenth of the population of 83
        million, are worried by political gains made by Islamists since Hosni
        Mubarak was ousted last year. They have long complained of discrimination in
        Muslim-majority Egypt.

        "We pray that our Lord chooses a good shepherd," interim Pope Bakhomious,
        who has temporarily held the post since Shenouda's death, said in his
        gold-embroidered white robes after placing the names in the bowl and sealing
        it with hot red wax.

        "We are all witnesses before the Lord," he told the congregation in the
        packed cathedral in the centre of Cairo, where priests swung censers that
        wafted incense into
        the air.

        Voters whittled the candidates down to three from a field which included
        leading members of the church, public figures and a handful of
        representatives of the Ethiopian Church, which has historic links to the
        church in Egypt.

        That ballot was held last week. Echoing the worries of many of Egypt's
        Copts, shopkeeper Michael George said before the service: "Christians fear
        the Islamists' rule especially because their presence is encouraging
        radicals to act freely."

        Since Mubarak was ousted, there have been several attacks on churches by
        radical Islamists. Those incidents have fuelled longstanding complaints that
        Christians are sidelined in the workplace and in law.

        Rules that make it harder to obtain official permission to build a church
        rather than a mosque have added to those fears.

        The Muslim Brotherhood, the mainstream Islamist movement that propelled
        president Mohamed Mursi to power, has sworn to guard therights of Christians
        in the overwhelmingly majority Sunni Muslim nation.

        Reuters
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