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Blindfolded boy chooses new Coptic Christian Pope

The Copts have a new leader to steer them through the uncertain times they face in Egypt.

  • Egypt
  • November 5, 2012
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Bishop Tawadros was chosen as new pope of Egypt's Coptic Christians Sunday when a blindfolded altar boy picked his name from a chalice in a ceremony invoking divine guidance for the beleaguered minority.

Acting head of the church Bishop Pachomius took the ballot from the boy's hand and, showing it to the throng inside St Mark's Cathedral, announced: "Bishop Tawadros."

The crowd erupted in cheers and applause as church bells tolled in celebration across the country.

The new Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa in the Holy See of St Mark the Apostle succeeds pope Shenuda III, who died in March leaving behind a community anxious about its future under an Islamist-led government.

Tawadros, 60, a bishop in the Nile Delta province of Beheira, was among three candidates -- the other two being Bishop Rafael, 54, a medical doctor and current assistant bishop for central Cairo, and Father Rafael Ava Mina, 70.

On November 18, Tawadros will assume his new position as spiritual head of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, becoming the 118th pope in a line dating back to the origins of Christianity and to Saint Mark, the apostle and author of one of the four Gospels, who brought the new faith to Egypt.

"The pope is a servant," Tawadros told Egyptian state television after his appointment, adding that he bore "the responsibility of love and peace."

Tawadros, whose given name Wagih Sobhy Baqi Suleiman, had come second in a vote last week for three final candidates.

Nearly 2,500 Coptic public officials, MPs, journalists and local councillors had voted to select the three from an original group of five to succeed Shenuda, who died at the age of 88 after four decades on the papal throne.

Tawadros is said to have had the support of the interim head of the church, Bishop Pachomius.

The ceremony in which he was appointed was meant to allow God to help choose the new leader.

The rite, and the use of an altar boy to choose the next pope, "gives a special blessing to the chosen one," Pachomius told the congregation in St Mark's.

Bishoy Girgis Masaad, the altar boy who picked Tawadros' name from a chalice, was chosen from among 12 children and later told state television he had wanted Tawadros to win.

Full Story: Bishop Tawadros Egypt's new Coptic pope

Source: Deccan Chronicle
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