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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

11/5/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Bishop Tawadros will lead the Middle East's biggest Christian community

The Coptic Orthodox church, the Middle East's biggest Christian community has chosen a new pope. The name of Bishop Tawadros was chosen as a blindfolded altar boy picked one of three names in a plastic ball at a glass chalice at the altar of the Abbasiya cathedral in Cairo.

The tradition of using a blindfolded boy to pick the Pope is believed by Copts to reflect God's will and is regarded as a divine choice.

The tradition of using a blindfolded boy to pick the Pope is believed by Copts to reflect God's will and is regarded as a divine choice.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/5/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Coptic Christians, pope, ceremony, Egypt, persecution


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Tawadros was named the 118th Pope in the "altar lottery" during Sunday morning mass. Prayers, chants and incense filled the cathedral as the 60-year-old bishop was declared the church's new leader.

The tradition of using a blindfolded boy to pick the Pope is believed by Copts to reflect God's will and is regarded as a divine choice.

Among the other candidates for the position were 54-year-old Bishop Rafael, a medical doctor and current assistant bishop for central Cairo and 70-year-old Father Rafael Ava Mina, the oldest of the five original candidates.

Tawadros, of the Nile Delta province of Beheira, will replace Pope Shenouda III who led the church for four decades until he died in March at the age of 88. Shenouda, known as a pragmatic leader, had died at a critical time for the increasingly beleaguered minority, which has faced a surge in sectarian attacks after an uprising overthrew Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

Many Copts are looking towards their newly chosen pope to ensure that the voices of Christians, who have long complained of discrimination in Egypt, are heard.

Tawadros will be the latest 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.

Nearly 2,500 Coptic public officials, MPs, journalists and local councilors took part in the vote.

Security was tight to ensure there was no foul play during the entire process, before a large congregation and televised.

There are increased fears about the community's future after Mubarak's overthrow. Tawadros will be its main contact with Egypt's first Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi.

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

Five Copts were injured in clashes with Muslims at a church in a village south of Cairo on October 28, security sources said.

Coptic Christians make up just 10 percent of the Egypt's population of 82 million.

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