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Sunday 20 April  

New Coptic Christian pope enthroned in Egypt

Published on 18 November 2012 - 6:55pm
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Pope Tawadros II was enthroned as the new leader of Egypt's Coptic Christian minority on Sunday in a ceremony at Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral attended by Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.

Dozens of Coptic clerics in flowing robes took part in the ceremony, the first in four decades, as the Muslim premier watched on.

Tawadros received the crown and crucifix from Bishop Pachomius, who had served as the church's interim leader, before ascending the huge throne of St Mark embossed with its two wooden lions.

Arabic, English and Greek mingled with the ancient Coptic language of the church's liturgy in the psalms and prayers of the service and the tributes of well-wishers.

Tawadros, 60, was chosen on November 4 to succeed Pope Shenuda III, who died in March after four decades on the patriarchal throne.

He becomes spiritual head of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East and 118th pope in a line dating back to the origins of Christianity and to Saint Mark, the apostle and author of one of the four Gospels, who brought the new faith to Egypt.

Shenuda, a careful, pragmatic leader, died at a critical time for the increasingly beleaguered minority, which has faced a surge in sectarian attacks after an uprising overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

The pope leads the country's Coptic Orthodox community. Christians make up between six and 10 percent of Egypt's 83-million population.

Amid increased fears about the community's future after the overthrow of Mubarak, Tawadros will be its main contact with Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The rise of Islamists after the revolution sparked fears among Copts of further persecution at home, despite Morsi's repeated promises to be a president "for all Egyptians."

Tawadros's official biography stresses his wish for good relations with Muslims, saying he has "asked the media to accentuate common values between the two religions to avoid extremism and consolidate national unity."

He also advocates further unity between Egypt's Copts and those of the diaspora, whose leaders have often been more outspoken against abuses suffered by the Christians in Egypt.

© ANP/AFP
  • Pope Tawadros II was enthroned as the new leader of Egypt's Coptic Christian ...
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