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Coptic Orthodox Church elects new pope

Catholic World News - November 05, 2012

The Coptic Orthodox Church has selected a 60-year-old bishop as its 118th pope and patriarch.

“The most important thing is for the church to go back and live consistently within the spiritual boundaries, because this is its main work, spiritual work,” said Pope Abna Tawadros (Theodorus) II, who will be installed on November 18.

After a 2,400 clergy and prominent laity had chosen three final candidates for the papacy, a blindfolded boy selected Tawadros’s name from a chalice. Pope Tawadros succeeds Shenouda III, who died in March after a remarkable tenure of almost 40 years as the Coptic leader.

The new Coptic pope faces a daunting challenge in Egypt, where the a climate of rising Islamic militance has placed new stress on the religious minority.

In a message to the new Coptic leader, Pope Benedict XVI voiced his confidence that he would "be a genuine spiritual father" after the example of Pope Shenouda. The Roman Pontiff said: "In these challenging times it is important for all Christians to bear witness to the love and fellowship that binds them together, mindful of the prayer offered by our Lord at the Last Supper: that all may be one, so that the world may believe."

The Coptic Orthodox Church, based in Egypt, traces its origins to St. Mark’s evangelization of Alexandria. Like other churches of the Oriental Orthodox, the Coptic Orthodox Church ceased to be in full communion with the Holy See following the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451.

The Coptic Orthodox Church has 9 million members, most of them in Egypt; the Coptic Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Holy See, has 162,000 members.

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