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Copts face uncertain future after leader's death

Catholic World News - March 20, 2012

Pope Shenouda III, who died on March 17 at the age of 88, played a defining role in the recent history of the Coptic Orthodox Church—not only because of his remarkably long tenure (40 years) as the Coptic Pope, but also because he presided during a period of profound social change in Egypt.

Father Samir Khalil Samir, SJ, a Vatican expert on the Arab world, looks at the prospects for the Copts in the wake of Shenouda’s death. The deceased Coptic leader had made an informal alliance with ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, he notes, and the Coptic Church has seen a sharp rise in anti-Christian violence since Mubarak’s departure and the swing toward an Islamic government.

The Coptic Church showed signs of growth and health during Shenouda’s reign, despite the pressures of an Islamic majority. Relations between Copts and other Christian groups were not strong, however.

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