Bishop Tawadros picked as Egypt’s new Coptic pope

Updated 05 November 2012
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Bishop Tawadros picked as Egypt’s new Coptic pope

CAIRO: Bishop Tawadros was chosen as new pope of Egypt’s Coptic Christians yesterday when a blindfolded altar boy picked his name from a chalice in a ceremony invoking divine guidance for the beleaguered minority.
Acting head of the church Bishop Pachomius took the ballot from the boy’s hand and, showing it to the throng inside St. Mark’s Cathedral, announced: “Bishop Tawadros.”
The crowd erupted in cheers and applause as church bells tolled in celebration across the country.
The new Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa in the Holy See of St. Mark the Apostle succeeds pope Shenuda III, who died in March leaving behind a community anxious about its future under an Islamist-led government.
Tawadros, 60, a bishop in the Nile Delta province of Beheira, was among three candidates — the other two being Bishop Rafael, 54, a medical doctor and current assistant bishop for central Cairo, and Father Rafael Ava Mina, 70.
On November 18, Tawadros will assume his new position as spiritual head of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, becoming the 118th pope in a line dating back to the origins of Christianity and to Saint Mark, the apostle and author of one of the four Gospels, who brought the new faith to Egypt.
“The pope is a servant,” Tawadros told Egyptian state television after his appointment, adding that he bore “the responsibility of love and peace.”
Tawadros, whose given name Wagih Sobhy Baqi Suleiman, had come second in a vote last week for three final candidates.
Nearly 2,500 Coptic public officials, MPs, journalists and local councillors had voted to select the three from an original group of five to succeed Shenuda, who died at the age of 88 after four decades on the papal throne.
Tawadros is said to have had the support of the interim head of the church, Bishop Pachomius.
The ceremony in which he was appointed was meant to allow God to help choose the new leader.
The rite, and the use of an altar boy to choose the next pope, “gives a special blessing to the chosen one,” Pachomius told the congregation in St. Mark’s.
Bishoy Girgis Masaad, the altar boy who picked Tawadros’ name from a chalice, was chosen from among 12 children and later told state television he had wanted Tawadros to win.
Pachomius later said in an interview with state television that the new pope had yet to be ratified by President Muhammad Mursi.
But this is a formality, and Mursi sent Tawadros a congratulatory message, the official MENA news agency reported.
Strict measures were taken to ensure there was no foul play during the entire process. The three pieces of paper were all the same size, tied up the same way and placed in the chalice.
Shenuda, a careful, pragmatic leader, died at a critical time for the increasingly beleaguered minority, which has faced a surge in sectarian attacks after a popular uprising overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
The pope serves as the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up between six and 10 percent of its 83-million-strong population.
Amid increased fears about the community’s future after Mubarak’s overthrow, the new pope will be its main contact with Mursi, Egypt’s first Islamist president.
The rise of Islamists after the revolution has sparked fears among Copts of further persecution at home, despite Mursi’s repeated promises to be a president “for all Egyptians.”
In the most recent incident, five Copts were injured in clashes with Muslims at a church in a village south of Cairo on October 28, security sources said.
The violence broke out when Muslim villagers tried to block access to the church as the Coptic faithful arrived for Sunday mass.
bur-se/srm


Israel to destroy Russian S-300 air defense system in Syria if attacked

Updated 24 April 2018
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Israel to destroy Russian S-300 air defense system in Syria if attacked

LONDON: Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Tuesday that if Syria uses Russian-made air defense system against Israeli warplanes, then Tel Aviv will destroy them.
In an interview with Israel’s Ynet, Lieberman commented on the Russian plans to supply Damascus regime with improved air defense system.
“What’s important to us is that the defensive weapons the Russians are giving Syria won’t be used against us,” Lieberman Said. Israel Defense Minister warned Damascus that if they were to target Israeli planes Tel Aviv will retaliate and take out the S-300 supplied by Moscow.
“If they’re used against us, we’ll act against them.” Lieberman reiterated his country’s position not to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs, but he warned against Iran’s efforts to flood the country with advanced weapon systems that could be aimed at Israel.