SAT-7 International Council Extends Condolences to Coptic Orthodox Church
On 17th March 2012, Coptic Pope Shenouda III died at the age of 88 as a result of health complications related to old age. SAT-7 interrupted its normal schedules to broadcast the state funeral live from St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. The SAT-7 International Council, at a scheduled meeting after the funeral, extended its condolences to the Coptic Orthodox Church, the largest Christian community in the whole of the Middle East.
Before the funeral, tens of thousands of mourners visited the pope’s body at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo to pay their last respects. The funeral service also drew thousands of mourners, many of whom were hysterical with grief at the loss of the only church leader most Copts alive today have ever known. Pope Shenouda was buried at St. Bishoi Monastery.
Pope Shenouda first started his professional career as a journalist. He went on to become one of the youngest elected popes over 40 years ago. Among his most notable accomplishments was his starting of the Sunday School movement in Egypt. SAT-7 CEO and founder Terence Ascott has said about Pope Shenouda, “He was a profound Bible teacher. Nobody knew the Bible like he did.”
The 2011 revolution, the recent election of a 70% Islamist majority to parliament, and upcoming presidential elections in May make this a very vulnerable time for the Coptic community, who comprise less than 10% of the population in Egypt. Going through a leadership change at the same time only adds to their insecurity and SAT-7 joins with others in praying for transitional wisdom and God’s choice of a new pope. Father Greiche, the Head of the Press Office of the Coptic Catholic Church, has said that the election of a pope before the election of a new Egyptian president would allow for the most freedom in selection as the Egyptian president must legally issue a decree confirming the new pope.
Last week SAT-7 broadcast a special episode of ‘Revealer of Secrets’, which included historic video clips of the pope and his poetry. SAT-7 is currently working on a biographical documentary of Pope Shenouda.