In Islamist-led Egypt, Coptic Christians name new pope

Sun Nov 4, 2012 12:03pm EST
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The new pope, bishop of a region in the Nile Delta north of Cairo, was shown on television praying at Pope Shenouda's tomb in a desert monastery in Wadi el-Natrun surrounded by priests.

Bearded, bespectacled and in black priestly robes, Tawadros thanked God, praised his predecessor and said: "I carry love to all our brothers in Egypt," in comments broadcast on television.

Church experts said Tawadros, trained as a pharmacist before becoming a priest, had strong communication skills and called for peaceful co-existence in Egyptian society.


Coptic activist Peter el-Naggar welcomed the choice, adding: "He is not the kind of man who would compromise our rights."

Marina Nabil, 20, said amid the applause after the ceremony that lasted several hours: "I am so happy. I have had dealings with Bishop Tawadros before and he is a very wise and calm man."

Muslim leaders and politicians offered congratulations and voiced hopes he would foster greater national unity.

In a ballot last week the candidates had been whittled down to the three. Voters 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.

The other two candidates for the papal post 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 taking on holy orders.   Continued...

Egyptian caretaker of the Coptic Church, interim Pope Bakhomious (R) holds a piece of paper with the name of Bishop Tawadros written on it, after it was picked by Bishoy Gerges in Cairo November 4, 2012. Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church chose a new pope, Bishop Tawadros, in a sumptuous service on Sunday that Christians hope will lead them through an Islamist-dominated landscape and protect what is the Middle East's biggest Christian community. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany