Egypt Gets New Pope

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Egypt’s Coptic Christians chose a new Pope yesterday in an elaborate ceremony.

Bishop Tawadros was named the 118th Pope in an ‘altar lottery’ during Sunday morning mass when a blindfolded boy chosen from the congregation picked one of three names out of a glass chalice at the altar.

It was the first time there had been a new Pope since 1971.

‘We pray that God will choose the good shepherd,’ said Acting Pope Pachomious.

After a colourful service lasting nearly four hours at St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, a child was selected from a line-up of 12 young Coptic boys.

Pachomious blindfolded the chosen child then waved a pair of scissors to make the sign of the cross before cutting the ribbon that sealed the chalice.

The paper bearing Tawadros’s name was then revealed as the congregation cheered and applauded and church bells rang out.

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.

Pope Tawadros II, 60, who has been described as ‘a modest man of few words but many actions’ will replace Pope Shenouda III, who died at the age of 88 in March, leaving the Middle East’s largest Christian minority without a leader at a time of increased uncertainty for Egyptian Christians after President Hosni Mubarak’s fall and the subsequent rise of an Islamist-led government to power.

Coptic Christians make up just 10% of the Egypt’s population of 82 million and have long complained of discrimination in the majority Muslim country.

Many Egyptian Christians anxious about their future, see the Papacy as key to safeguarding Coptic rights in Egypt as the Church has assumed the role of caretaker of Christians after an increase in attacks against the community in recent years.

The new Pope will be ordained Nov. 18 as Pope Tawadros II.

 

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