On 4th November, at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo, an altar ballot determined that 61-year-old Bishop Tawadros would be the 118th Coptic Patriarch. SAT-7 aired the momentous occasion in a special live broadcast lasting over two hours.
The Coptic Patriarch is the highly respected spiritual leader of about 8 million Coptic Christians living in Egypt (the largest Christian community in the Middle East) and several million more now living in the West. His role in guiding the Coptic Orthodox Church will be significant as Christians seek to cope with religious and social discrimination, and as an Islamist-majority parliament drafts a new Egyptian constitution.
The new Coptic Patriarch’s appointment has been well-received by Christian and other groups, with congratulatory messages coming from such notable figures as Egypt’s new President Mohammed Mursi. H.E. Kyrillos, Patriarchal Administrator of the Coptic Catholic Church, has commended Bishop Tawadros for promoting peace and national unity. Father Greiche, Head of the Press Office for the Catholic Church in Egypt, lauded Bishop Tadawdros’ humility and conviction.
Bishop Mounir Hanna, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, had this to say regarding his thoughts and wishes for the new patriarch:
“I’ve got to know him previously and he loves the Lord and the nation. He is God’s choice for His church, and we’re trusting Him to give Bishop Tawadros grace and wisdom to bear this great responsibility along with the hopes and concerns of the Christians in Egypt and abroad.”
On 18th November, Bishop Tawadros will officially be established as the new Coptic Patriarch in an enthronement ceremony at St Mark’s Cathedral. SAT-7 will air the ceremony live, with simultaneous commentary by guests in SAT-7’s Cairo studio. George Makeen, Programming Manager for SAT-7 ARABIC, commented on the new appointment: “The new Patriarch is serving in a new era, where the future is unpredictable…hopefully he will seize the opportunity and open links with all sectors of the Church, with other Christian denominations, and with the whole of society – so Christians can continue to be the salt of the earth.”
The former spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, passed away last March at the age of 88. SAT-7 produced and aired a documentary on the life of Patriarch Shenouda, and the current affairs show Bridges discussed the impact of his leadership over the past four decades.
Dr Terence Ascott, International CEO of SAT-7 also commented: “His Holiness Patriarch Shenouda was elected in 1971. Since then the Coptic Orthodox Church has become much more international. Because of this and the fast changing political landscape in Egypt, the new Patriarch will face a very different set of challenges than his late predecessor. He needs, and has our prayers!”
Photo: Tens of thousands queued to pay their respects at the death of Pope Shenouda.