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Coptic Christians grieve as their Pope dies in Egypt

Pope Shenouda III, who died on Saturday aged 88, will be remembered for his valiant attempts to create harmony between Christians and Muslims.

  • Yasmine Saleh
  • Egypt
  • March 19, 2012
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Christians gathered on Sunday to pay final respects to Pope Shenouda III, who sought to soothe sectarian tension in his four decades atop Egypt's Orthodox Church but saw increasing flareups in the majority Muslim nation in the last months of his life.

Friction has worsened since President Hosni Mubarak, who suppressed Islamists, was ousted last year. Since then Shenouda, who died on Saturday aged 88, often called for harmony and regularly met Muslim and other leaders.

Christians, who comprise about a tenth of Egypt's 80 million people, have long complained of discrimination and in the past year stepped up protests, which included calls for new rules that would make it as easy to build a church as a mosque.

Shenouda had served as the 117th Pope of Alexandria since November 1971, leading the Orthodox community who make up most of Egypt's Christians. His funeral will be held on Tuesday, Egyptian state media reported.

U.S. President Barack Obama offered his condolences and Pope Benedict, leader of the world's Roman Catholics, offered prayers after being informed of his death.

Thousands of Christians queued in Cairo's Abbasiya district overnight and on Sunday morning at the cathedral where Shenouda's body was initially laid in a coffin and later seated on a ceremonial throne wearing gold and red embroidered religious vestments, a golden mitre on his head and holding a gold-topped staff.

Full Story: Shenouda III: Coptic Christians Bid Farewell To Pope, Burial To Be At Wadi El Natrun

Source: Huffington Post Religion
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