Last Tuesday saw the enthronement of a new patriarch for the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt, Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak. The enthronement ceremony took place during Holy Mass which began at 11:00am at the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin in the east Cairo suburb of Nasr City.
The patriarch-elect waited in the vestibule, and with him the bishops of the Catholic Church, until the Praxis was read. They then escorted him to the closed door of the church, where he was given the key by the head deacon and, in a figurative gesture, opened it. A large procession of deacons and bishops then escorted him into the church and up to the altar, where the rites of the enthronement started. Bishop Yuhanna Qolta performed the enthronement in place of Cardinal Antonios Naguib, Patriarch Emeritus of Alexandria of the Catholic Copts, who in January had to give up the exercise of his patriarchal ministry for health reasons. Cardinal Naguib was taking part in the conclave in Rome currently gathered to select a new Patriarch for the Catholic Church.
The investiture canon was read, the new patriarch was vested in the papal garments, and he was called to pick up the shepherd’s staff from above the altar.
The new Patriarch##s crown came from the Ukraine, and carries four images of Jesus Christ the King, Christ the Good Shepherd, the Holy Virgin, and Abraham. The patriarchal vestments were made at the convent of St Mercurius in Old Cairo.
Last January, Pope Benedict XVI had sent a personal letter to the newly elected Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, “joyfully” granting him full ecclesiastical communion. This letter formally confirmed the election of the 62 year-old former bishop of Minya by the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Coptic Church, which took place on 15 January, as successor to Patriarch Antonios Naguib. The 77-year-old Antonios Naguib had become Patriarch in the spring of 2006 and in November 2010, Benedict XVI created him cardinal. He was also General Relator at the Synod of Bishops for the Churches of the Middle East. In December 2011, Patriarch Naguib suffered an intracranial hemorrhage.
His successor Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak was born on 19 August 1955 in Beni-Shuqeir, in Assiut, Upper Egypt. He studied Philosophy and Theology at the St Leo Patriarchal Seminary in Maadi, Cairo, and was ordained a priest in 1980. For the following two years he served in Cairo, then was sent to Rome to study at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he received his doctorate in dogmatic theology. Between 1990 and 2001 he was the rector of the Patriarchal Seminary in Maadi. In October 2002 he was elected Bishop of Minya.
Attending the ceremony were several public figures, including the politician and former Arab League Chief Amr Moussa, the co-head of the National Salvation front Hamdeen Sabahi, and the politician and former Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour.
On the ecclesiastical level were present representatives of the Churches inside and outside Egypt, among them the Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and the East Pope Gregorius III.
The Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II attended the enthronement ceremony, and gave a word in which he talked about the papacy as a mission of fatherhood, love and service. He presented the new Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac with a gift of a cross and a pendant that carries an icon of the Holy Virgin.
17 March 2013