The 118th pope of the Coptic Church
Last Sunday I wrote that the following day was to see Coptic voters head to the polls to elect three out of five names, one of whom will be the 118th pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church,
Last Sunday I wrote that the following day was to see Coptic voters head to the polls to elect three out of five names, one of whom will be the 118th pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, to succeed the late Pope Shenouda III who passed away last March.
The three winners were: Anba Raphail who scored 1980 votes, followed by Anba Tawadros at 1623 votes, and Father Raphail Ava Mina at 1530 votes.
According to the bylaws that govern the elections of the Coptic Orthodox patriarch, the three wining names are placed on the altar during Holy Mass, and one name is drawn by a blindfolded boy; the name of the new pope. This final step which culminates the process of selecting the 118th patriarch takes place today and is believed by the Coptic Church to be the expression of Divine Will in the choice of its new shepherd.
In this regard the bylaws stipulate the following:
• Article 17: “With the completion of the vote count, the head of the elections committee announces the names of the three candidates who scored most, by order of the highest votes scored. The secretary of the committee issues a final report of the proceedings of the election’s day in two copies signed each by the head of the committee, as well as its members and the Interior Ministry representative. The final report specifies the Sunday which follows the election day as a date to conduct the draw at St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. One copy of the final report is sent to the Interior Ministry and the other one is kept at the patriarchate, as well as all the papers related to the election process after they are put in envelopes and sealed with the red wax.”
• Article 18: “The acting patriarch announces the date of the draw which is conducted according to Church’s regulations and traditions. The acting patriarch announces the name chosen by the draw, and writes a report, in two copies, signed by the head of the election committee, the members of the Holy Synod present, and the nomination committee. A copy of the report is sent to the Interior Ministry the following day. A presidential decree is then issued to appoint the patriarch, and the acting patriarch enthrones him according to Church tradition.”
Thus today, the heavens select the Church’s pastor. The path of selecting the patriarch ends with a blessed step that crowns the choice of the congregation of its pastor. I hope the Church upholds this tradition which changes the prospect of the papal selection from a mundane contest between the candidates to a climate replete with sentiments of acceptance, contentment, and submission to the will of God. The congregation rejoices as it welcomes its new pope and wishes for long, peaceful times under him.
Today, in spirit of prayer and sanctity, through a blindfolded boy, the heavens reveal the name of the new patriarch chosen by the Divine to sit on the seat of St Mark, as a father, shepherd and leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church. To him we owe love, respect and spiritual submission. To all the other candidates who made it to the draw or who missed making it at any earlier stage, we express respect, honour and gratitude. As they go back to their parishes or monasteries to proceed with their life vocations and service to the Church for the glory of the heavenly Father, we tell them they are truly appreciated.
4 November 2012