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In a time of trouble, Egypt's Coptic Orthodox choose a new pope

October 29, 2012

Leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church cast ballots on October 29 to choose a new leader, replacing Pope Shenouda III, who died in March after leading the Egyptian church for nearly 40 years.

Over 1,000 electors participated in the day’s voting, which was held in the cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo. The election had been twice re-scheduled because of unrest in Egypt.

The October 29 balloting will yield 3 final candidates for the Coptic leadership role. The next pope will be selected on Sunday, November 4. Following a tradition of the Egyptian church, the names of the three finalists will be placed on slips of paper in a box, from which a blindfolded child will draw one, in a process that is believed to be guided by God’s will.

The new Coptic pope will need to find a balance between the need for prudence, in light of the rising tide of Islamic militancy in Egypt, and the pressure from younger, more aggressive Copts for an assertive policy demanding respect for the rights of the religious minority.


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