As Watani finds its way to its readers’ hands this morning, Pope Tawadros II will be stepping into St Mark’s cathedral in Abassiya, Cairo, surrounded by his brother bishops, to be enthroned on the seat of St Mark and handed the pastoral staff.
Once this ceremonial ritual is completed, the papacy of the 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St mark is inaugurated. Hopes are high that a new era of love and peace should begin under a good, wise leadership.
It is two weeks now since the altar draw on 4 November that brought in the Bishop-General of Beheira Anba Tawadros to be the new patriarch Pope Tawadros II. I had imagined that the new pope would have gone into retreat until his enthronement today, but I found him busy giving interviews to the various printed and audio visual media. Even though I felt for him; the pressure of such exposure cannot be underplayed; I fully admired and appreciated the spirit of love, wisdom and insight with which he replied to the questions posed by the media.
The media left no issue it did not tackle in its interviews with Pope Tawadros II, be it pertaining to the Church, the homeland, or politics. The Pope, on his part, did not hesitate to reply to all. He talked candidly about his vision for the policy of the Church regarding each and every issue, and I can safely say that his words generated comfort, appreciation, and optimism. It was obvious that the Church in the upcoming period had a role to play in its capacity as a well-established religious institution and a highly patriotic platform. This role cannot be separated from the course of events in Egypt.
In his first declaration since he was named patriarch, Pope Tawadros II said that putting the house in order was among his major priorities. In the short span of time before his enthronement, he has assigned to the elections committee the task of changing the 1957 bylaws for the election of the Coptic Orthodox patriarch. The 1957 bylaws are still in force today, but have come under wide criticism by the Coptic public who have demanded that the bylaws should be changed to accommodate modern-day needs and variables, and to define several controversial points the bylaws are ambiguous on. Even before the new pope was named, all the candidates for the papacy had signed written pledges that once enthroned, they would have the bylaws changed within a year’s time. There had even been calls to change the bylaws during the last years of Pope Shenouda III who passed away last March after some 41 years as patriarch, but these calls were rejected by Pope Shenouda since changing the bylaws then would have been interpreted as tailored in favour of a specific candidate. Pope Tawadros II, through his recent decision to change the bylaws, has proved himself a man of action who wastes no time to keep good on his promise.
Since today’s issue can carry no coverage on the enthronement ceremony of Pope Tawadros II, Watani will print a special issue on the enthronement on Tuesday, an issue that will be a historic reference on a great event.
Today’s issue of Watani, however, covers another event which is very special in its own way: that of the jubilee of Anba Pachomeus taking orders. Anba Pachomeus, Archbishop of Beheira, Matrouh and Pentapolis, has been locom tenens (acting patriarch) of the Coptic Orthodox Church since Pope Shenouda III passed away and until the enthronement of Pope Tawadros II. Anba Pachomeus has behind him 50 years of dedicated service that spanned his time in the monastery, in his parish, and in the wider Church service as acting patriarch. All bear testimony to his unlimited love, wisdom, patience and understanding. During the critical time that the Coptic Church lost its spiritual father Pope Shenouda III, Anba Pachomeus wisely and masterfully sailed the Church through the choppy waters until he brought it into safe harbour.
Watani marks Anba Pachomeus’s jubilee with heart-felt love, appreciation, and thankfulness. He has been the best of fathers and leaders, and I am sure he will make the best brother, supporter, and faithful advisor to his disciple Pope Tawadros II.
18 November 2012
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