The empty Papal Seat in the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, in Abbassia District in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: courtesy of light-dark.net)
A media campaign has been launched with the aim of introducing the five final candidates in the Coptic Orthodox Church's upcoming papal elections, church spokesman Bishop Paul announced on Wednesday.
The campaign includes pre-recorded interviews with the candidates that have already begun airing on Egypt's three official Coptic television channels.
The channels are: Aghapy TV, CTV Channel, and ME Sat (Mar Markos Eg Sat).
Other non-Coptic channels have been invited by the church to broadcast the interviews.
The campaign will also include visits by the five papal candidates to churches throughout the country, where they will perform masses and sermons.
An initial election is slated to be held on 29 October to narrow the list of five candidates to three, while a final selection process – in which a blindfolded child will randomly select the winner's name – will be held on 4 November.
Earlier this week, church authorities announced the names of the five final candidates, arranged alphabetically as follows:
1. Father Pachomios El-Syrian: A monk at the Virgin Mary Monastery in Wadi Natroun. Born in Aswan in 1963, El-Syrian holds a joint degree in science and education. Father Pachomios El-Syrian lives in Italy
2. Bishop Raphael: Auxiliary bishop of central Cairo and Heliopolis, a former aide to the late Pope Shenouda III, and a member of the Coptic Church's Holy Synod. Born in Cairo in 1954 and a graduate of Ain Shams University's medical faculty, Raphael was ordained bishop in June 1997.
3. Father Raphael Ava Mina: A monk at Alexandria's St. Mina Monastery (Mar Mina). Born in Cairo in 1942, Ava Mina has a law degree from Ain Shams University.
4. Father Seraphim El-Syrian: Also a monk at Wadi Natroun's Virgin Mary Monastery. Born in 1959 in Cairo, El-Syrian has a science degree from Ain Shams University. Father Seraphim El-Syrian lives in USA.
5. Bishop Tawadros: Auxiliary bishop for Beheira, and auxiliary to Bishop Pachomios (who is currently serving as acting Pope). A member of the Holy Synod, Tawadros was born in 1952 and studied pharmaceutical sciences at Alexandria University. He was ordained bishop in 1997.