Will the President come?
The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church is busy finalising the arrangements for the enthronement ceremony of the new patriarch, Pope Tawadros II, on 18 November
The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church is busy finalising the arrangements for the enthronement ceremony of the new patriarch, Pope Tawadros II, on 18 November. A special protocol committee was formed to oversee the arrangements, as explained by Anba Pola, the spokesperson for the Holy Synod.
The Protocol Committee has extended invitations to Churches the world over to attend the enthronement ceremony, and is expecting their replies. The guests who will attend will be greeted at the airport and accompanied through till the ceremony itself. Anba Pola said that special official invitations are prepared for public figures in Egypt as well as numbered seats. The invitations, Anba Pola said, will only be sent out to them after they confirm their acceptance of the oral invitations they have received.
As far as the Coptic congregation is concerned, he highlighted, those who wish to attend the ceremony should hand in their names and photocopies of their IDs to the bishoprics they belong to, and invitations will be sent to them through their churches.
Anba Pola explained that the enthronement ceremony will start with Holy Mass at 7.00am next Sunday. At 8.00am Pope Tawadros II, accompanied by the archbishops and bishops, will be waiting at the doors of the St Mark’s cathedral where he will be handed the key to the cathedral. The key is a large-sized symbolic one which marks the handing-over to the pope his new responsibility. He then enters the cathedral at 8.30am, and the enthronement ceremony begins.
Anba Pachomeus, currently the acting patriarch, will preside over the ceremony, Anba Pola said, and a number of archbishops who will be responsible for the new pope’s clerical vestments will also participate in the prayers.
There has been much controversy on whether or not President Mursi will attend the enthronement ceremony. The Church on her part has so far received no response on that head from the presidency.
There is wide opinion that the Church has resorted to the irregular practice of oral invitations in order to spare President Mursi the embarrassment of having to give a direct reply. The media has been carrying news that several Salafi figures have called upon the President to refrain from attending the ceremony which they described as “a religious celebration which contradicts Islamic faith.” The President, they said, embraces Islamic ideology and, as such, it is highly inappropriate for him to attend the enthronement ceremony.
Dr Yusry Hammad, the spokesman of al-Nour (Salafi) party said that the President himself should be the one to decide whether or not to attend, and should consult his consultants and deputies on the matter, stressing that the current period has no room for disagreements and clashes, and thus the President should be left to make up his own mind.
The Salafi Front issued a statement in which it confirmed it will not be represented at the enthronement ceremony since it holds ‘reservations’ against it. The Salafi Front spokesman Khaled Said, said that the Church had sent them no official invitation, but that in all cases the Salafi Front will not attend.
Gamal al-Ashri, a prominent member of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood##s Freedom and Justice Party, said the enthronement ceremony was a political rather than a religious event, and that by attending the ceremony the President Mursi would be sending a message of reassurance to the Copts and affirming that he was a president for all Egyptians.
13 November 2012