Bishop Tawadros new pope of Egypt's Coptic Christians


Watch the moment in the ceremony when a blindfolded boy picked the name out of a bowl

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Bishop Tawadros has been chosen as the new pope of Egypt's Coptic Christians, becoming leader of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

His name was selected from a glass bowl by a blindfolded boy at a ceremony in Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral. Three candidates had been shortlisted.

The 60-year-old succeeds Pope Shenouda III, who died in March aged 88.

He succeeds as attacks on Copts are on the increase, and many say they fear the country's new Islamist leaders.

Bishop Tawadros. Photo: October 2012 Bishop Tawadros has studied in Britain

The other two candidates were Bishop Raphael and Father Raphael Ava Mina. They were chosen in a ballot by a council of some 2,400 Church and community officials in October.

'In God's hands'

Their names were written on pieces of paper and put in crystal balls sealed with wax on the church altar.

A blindfolded boy - one of 12 shortlisted children - then drew out the name of Bishop Tawadros, who until now was an aide to the acting leader, Bishop Pachomius.

Bishop Pachomius then took the ballot from the boy's hand and showed it to all those gathered in the cathedral.

The hand of God

Ayman Mounir with Pope Shenouda just after he was chosen

We got an invitation to the ceremony to choose the new pope. But when my father and I got to the cathedral, the crowd was so big, we could not get inside. There were more people outside than in.

We were with the crowd outside, waiting to find out the name of the new pope, when a group of deacons came out to look for children. Ten of us went inside. I remember the acting pope was wearing a blindfold so he could not see us. Then he put his hand on my head.

When I was born my grandfather, who was a priest, told my mother he had dreamt I would be the person to choose the new pope, and that the pope would be called Shenouda III.

On the day I was chosen to pick the new pope, I was afraid of the crowd watching me, and the new experience. But I did not know what was going on, and I did not know who Pope Shenouda was.

Strict measures were in place to make sure there was no foul play during the televised ceremony: the three pieces of paper with candidates' names were all the same size and tied the same way.

Copts say this process ensures the selection is in God's hands.

Bishop Tawadros will be enthroned in a ceremony on 18 November.

The new pope has studied in Britain, and has also run a medicine factory, the BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo reports.

He is a man of broad experience and with managerial skills, our correspondent says, adding that he will need all those talents to lead the Copts as they face an uncertain future in a country now debating the role of Islam following last year's revolution.

Our correspondent says no-one in Egypt expects the new pope to introduce radical changes to the deeply conservative church.

Pope Shenouda died in March. Under his leadership, the Coptic Church expanded significantly, including outside its traditional Egyptian base.

He was a passionate advocate of unity among the Christian churches, and also clashed with then President Anwar Sadat, particularly over their conflicting views on the future of Egypt's relationship with Israel.

Coptic Christians have long complained of discrimination by the Egyptian state and the country's Muslim majority.

But when President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year and succeeded by the Muslim Brotherhood, their fears grew.

In October 2011, 25 people died in clashes with the security forces after a protest march in Cairo over the burning of a church.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    In my opinion (for which there is much supporting evidence) religion is the work of human beings, irrespective of whether any of them were inspired by supernatural forces, or the Logos, or not. Like all the works of Man, some of it is good, some of it bad, some of it true, some of it fiction. Surely we ought to sort the wheat from the chaff, the weeds from the useful crop?

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    237. Bornfromabove
    What does that mean?

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Since the BBC have steadfastly supported the muslim brotherhood
    What, in exactly the same way for example the Daily Mail supported Hitler? That is outrageous! Make public the evidence for this straight away! The whole world need to know! I am shocked!

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Milton Keynes

    It's not just factually incorrect, it's an outrageous lie, by someone completely ignorant of that region and likely even his/her own region

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Just a comment on the report itself, our reporter saw the name in Arabic and as he was saying he couldn't read it but we'd find out later they called out the name. Just a bit of patience is needed I think :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.


    As a Copt, I am shocked by some of the things being said on this board and it just shows that many people here know or care little about the Church but have decided to take out some anti-christian rage on this article.

    Predictable, though.

    I have met a few Mid-East Christians & I know it is not easy for them there. Anti-Christians should grow up and recognise the real threats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    A word of advice... Never try to understand the Bible unless, or until you are born again, as Scripture is spiritually discerned. May the Lord save all of your souls!

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    226. mattmatt81
    I would love the opertunity to speak for myself . Unfortunately aunty does not seem too keen on having a hys on any topics that I would like to express my views on .
    The BBC is not the only news outlet don't you know. The Daily Mail website lets you comment on each topic you like, no matter how inane.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    224. Abdi
    For me this why I lack of faith, I cannot see what the purpose of God is, His actions as set out in religious texts seem utterly random. When people start demanding worship, punish those who fail to follow unjustifiable rules we call that person a tyrant, millions have laid down their lives to be free and to free others from their influence yet we embrace a deity has those issues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Since the BBC have steadfastly supported the muslim brotherhood


    If you can give me one example of the BBC 'supporting' the muslim brotherhood, I'll eat my own keyboard.

    And I won't accept the fact that the beeb has failed label the muslim brotherhood as 'evil' as evidence of support..

    Just how much influence do you think the beeb has in Egypt anyway?

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.


    Not all, I prefer agnosticism and an open mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Do you know it is possible to be 100 % logical and 100% wrong? All worldviews are ultimately based on presuppositions which can neither be scientifically proved nor disproved but having assumed a presupposition we then may build logically upon it. That is why science isn't always about "proving" things but rather finding the best explanation that makes sense of the facts. God is that explanation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    So the choice is chance or predetermination, gods will or free will exercised by the Bishop to alter the odds. Not all religions beleive in free will, for some everything is pre-determined at some or all levels. A bishop exercising a choice could be undermining of gods will (or fairness through random choice) or the exercising of it.
    If its all predetermined then god made me an atheist, hahaha!

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    Look carefully ... the old man pre-positioned the balls of paper after removing the lid and then guided the boy's hand to one select one ... was this really as random as it was made out to be?

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    to fuzzi : God can change the future . he regreted what he was about to do to the city after jonah's warning because he saw a real modesty from the people in there. also he discused with ibraam the matter of burning the city if some good people exists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    The large institutions seem to have all gone wrong whether it be the great religious institutions, or governments.

    The only honest living available is a simple man being honest with himself.

    And anyone who makes his own choices rather than accept the education we are spoon fed with ... is alright too.

    And if he chooses to look deeply within himself to see what's there - that's fine with me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Since the BBC have steadfastly supported the muslim brotherhood might it be possible for them to exert some influence to persuade the brotherhood to take steps to protect the coptics and others from violence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    220 Milton Keynes

    I would love the opertunity to speak for myself . Unfortunately aunty does not seem too keen on having a hys on any topics that I would like to express my views on .

    Unless it is a plan to force all diehard hys'ers to kern about the history of the Coptic church . In which case fair play .

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    I agree that some parts of the old writings contain useful wisdom, so long as they are not taken too literally. Some of my favourite sayings come from the Gospels, from Taoism and some from the old Alchemical texts of Medieval Europe. Sadly, certain parts of 'scripture' appear to be of a far inferior quality, interpretation aside. Belief in the divinity of such scripture will always justify evil.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.


    It's a good question, but it may not be a question that anyone can answer. Science for example cannot answer 'why', it can only tell us how, I was disappointed to hear that many now have rejected asking 'why' and attribute it all to randomness


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