The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt has a new patriarch. A young and blindfolded boy picked Bishop Tawadros’ name during a religious ceremony in the Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo.
Born in the region of Mansoura, in the Nile Delta, the new patriarch, aged 60, studied pharmacy in Alexandria before joining the church. He was a monk in the monastery in the Wadi Natrun, a place of spirituality at the northeast of Cairo, and became bishop in 1997.
Two other candidates were nominated: Bishop Raphael, 54, of Cairo, and monk Raphael Ava Mina, 70 years old. The three candidates were pre-selected in a secret ballot Monday by a panel of nearly 2,500 religious and secular Coptic personalities.
Today’s ceremony was attended by many clergy and faithful. Hundreds of people had gained access to the building and followed the crowded event on screens installed outside. Twenty police trucks were also parked in front of the cathedral to ensure safety.
Tawadros is considered close to Bishop Pachomius, who has been acting as the Pope since the death of Pope Shenouda III in March. Tawadros will be officially crowned as the 118th Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church during a celebration held on November 18.
Copts account for 6 to 10% of the 83 million Egyptians and their church dates back to the early days of Christianity. But the rise of Islamism has strengthened their sense of anxiety and fears of marginalization.