Egypt's new Coptic pope hopes for 'true renaissance' under Morsi

Ahram Online, Monday 5 Nov 2012

Tawadros II, Egypt's new Coptic patriarch, says he hopes to see President Morsi's project for national revival materialise

Pope Tawadros
In this Friday, 2 November 2012 photo, Bishop Tawadros speaks with reporters in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)

In his first statements as Egypt's new Coptic Orthodox pope, Tawadros II – selected on Sunday – voiced hope that Egypt would witness a "genuine national revival" under Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

He also announced his intention to reform church regulations governing papal elections, which have not been altered for the past 55 years.

"I received the news with tears," Tawadros declared from the Saint Pishoy Monastery in Egypt's northern Wadi Natroun district, after his name was picked from a glass ballot box in Sunday's elaborate 'Altar Lottery' in Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral.

"We appreciate the president," Tawadros told reporters at the monastery, in reference to Morsi. "He is still in the first months [of his term], but we hope he carries out a genuine national revival... so that Egyptians feel changes on the ground."

On Sunday, President Morsi sent a congratulatory communiqué to Tawadros, in which he highlighted the historic unity between Egypt's Muslims and Christians, voicing his congratulations to the nations' Coptic-Christian community on the occasion of the election of their next patriarch.

The situation of Egypt's sizable Coptic-Christian community has come under scrutiny following the election of Morsi, who hails from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest Islamist movement.

Pope Tawadros also declared his intention to reform the papal selection process, some aspects of which critics say are obsolete and in need of adjustment. He vowed that the promised reforms would be completed within one year of his inauguration as Coptic patriarch.

"The regulations have been the same for 55 years," he said. "Surely, time has caught up with some aspects of the selection process."

Tawadros went on to say that he planned to deliver weekly sermons on Wednesday, in the tradition of his predecessor, late pope Shenouda III, who passed away in March after leading the church for four decades.

Before becoming pope, Tawadros served as general bishop for Beheira and auxiliary to Archbishop Pachomios (who served as acting pope until Sunday's election). Tawadros is also a member of the church's Holy Synod.

Tawadros was born in 1952 and studied pharmaceutical sciences at Alexandria University. He was ordained bishop in 1997.

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