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New pope named for Egypt's embattled Coptic Christians

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But he is widely respected, says Ms. Sidhom, and his younger age gives him an advantage in a country whose massive youth population is tired of leaving decision making to the elders. In an interview with local media two weeks ago, he stressed the importance of listening to young people and including them in the decision making processes, says Sidhom. "This is something which is quite promising where the church is concerned," she adds.

During the long, traditional service at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, thousands of black-clad priests, nuns in gray habits, and invited laypeople joined in liturgical chants that rose to vaulted ceilings. They waited with bated breath as the blindfolded altar boy chose the next pope, a tradition meant to ensure that God's choice, not man's, prevails.

After the ceremony was over, and the new pope's picture was flashed onto the screen at the front of the cathedral, many of those heading toward the exits amid the pealing of the cathedral's bells said they trusted that God had chosen the right man for the difficult job.

"We can't see the future, but God can, and he chose the one who can do the best for us in this time," says Mina Samy Awad. He says he met Bishop Tawadros at a church opening on Egypt's northern coast three years ago, and that the bishop was "so friendly. He ate with us and listened to us."

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