Getting ready for the patriarchal elections

08-06-2012 08:06 PM

Nader Shukry

The Coptic Church is making headway in the direction of electing its 118th patriarch, following the passing away of the 117th pope, Pope Shenouda III, last March.

The Coptic Church is making headway in the direction of electing its 118th patriarch, following the passing away of the 117th pope, Pope Shenouda III, last March.
Voters and voting
Bishop of Giza, Anba Theodosius, who together with Bishop of Shubral-Kheima Anba Morqos, chairs the committee for voter registration declared that the process of voters registration is expected to conclude on 28th of this month. If however, he said, any delays occur, the committee may extend the date. The voter lists, Anba Theodosius said, will be published in three national newspapers and will be hung on the noticeboard of St Mark’s cathedral at Abassiya, Cairo. 
For two weeks since the voter lists are announced, eligible voters may contest the nomination of any of the nominees for the papal post. Once the contest period is over, the papal election committee will look into the contests submitted, in order to draw the short list of five to seven candidates who will run for the post of patriarch. 
Anba Theodosius said that some 80 per cent of the voters have already been registered; the voter lists of the Copts resident in Egypt are complete, as well as a portion of the Coptic Diaspora.
The number of voters registered upto now is 1800, and it is expected that the total number will reach some 3000 voters. In comparison, Anba Theodosius said, the number of voters in the elections of the 117th patriarch were 700. The elections cards, he said, are under preparation; they will be either delivered before the elections or handed to voters at the ballots. 
Voting should take one day from 9am to 5pm but, if more time is needed, it will be extended to the following day. 
In the Diaspora
“Voter registration in the Diaspora has already been completed in the parishes headed by a bishop, including those of Los Angeles and Hawaii, headed by Anba Serapion, Southern United States headed by Anba Youssef and Virginia, headed by Anba Michael. Other parishes in the US that are not headed by a bishop, but were directly under the pope, will be treated the same as the Cairo parish, to be represented by 72 laymen and 24 of the clergy. Anba Morqos is currently in the US to help take a decision in this regard. 
Anba Antonious has already submitted the lists of voters in his archdiocese of non-Arab African countries. 
Australia voters have been registered. These include the voters of the diocese of Sydney headed by Anba Daniel, Melbourne headed by Anba Sorial, in addition to Abna Antonious monastery in which the abbot, secretary and the deputy of the monastery are registered. 
In the archdiocese of Jerusalem, which covers Palestine, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Syria, head by Archbishop Abraham, 12 laymen, church deputies, notaries and abbots were registered. 
Canada, which is under no bishop, is regarded as Alexandria; it will be represented 24 laymen and seven members of the clergy. 
In case of Europe, voters that belong to dioceses headed by bishops have all been all registered. These include England head by Anba Angelus, Germany head by Anba Demian, Scotland head by Anba Antony; and both bishoprics of Italy; Rome head by Anba Barnaba and Milano head by Anba Kyrillos, in addition to Anba Antonious monastery in Milano. 
Voters in France, a diocese at the head of which sat the late Anba Marcos, and which is today led by Father Luqa Girgis have also been registered. 
Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Holland, Spain and Belgium were all under the direct care of Pope Shenouda, and are under today the supervision of Anba Pachomeus; they will be treated as Alexandria, to be represented by 24 laymen and seven members of the clergy.
Non-Egyptian bishops
Apart from the voter lists, a decision has to be taken on where the Coptic voters outside Egypt will vote; whether in Cairo or any other place outside Egypt. 
Concerning the dioceses served by bishops who do not carry the Egyptian nationality, Anba Theodosius said they have no right to vote, even though they are members in the Holy Synod. According to the bylaws of the patriarchal elections, only Egyptians are allowed to vote. Among them is the French Anba Athanasius, Anba Seraphim of Britain, Anba Macarius of Eretria and Anba Daniel of Sydney who carries the Sudanese citizenship. Disallowing the members of the Holy Synod to vote is a problem in the current bylaws and will be changed the new patriarch is elected, Anba Theodosius said. 
Three bishops who were suspended: Anba Amonious of Luxor, Anba Takla of Dishna, and Anba Matthias of al-Mahala still have the right to vote since they still retain their membership in the Holy Synod. 
As regards the sister churches of Ethiopia and Eritrea, representatives from the Eritrean Church will attend the elections, and the enthronement, as a courtesy move but will not vote. 
The Ethiopian Church will participate in the enthronement. Anba Marcos of the voters committee said: “According to a 1994 agreement between the Coptic Orthodox and the Ethiopian Church, the Ethiopian Church sends five representatives who have the right to vote and participate in the enthronement; accordingly His Holiness Abuna Paulos will come to Egypt to vote”.
Political figures
Previous Coptic governors who registered their names on the voter lists include General Magdy Yacoub and General Emad Shehata of Qena. MPs Amin Iskander and Marguerite Azer are on the list, but none of the former or current ministers have so far registered their names. This applies to Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour, former Environment Minister Nadia Makram Ebeid, Scientific Research Minister Nadia Zakhary, and previous Environment Minister Maged George. MPs who did not register their names include Emad Gad, Hanna Gress, Sameh Makram Ebeid; as well as Marian Malak and George Messiha who do not have the right to vote because they are under 35. As for MPs Ihab al-Kharat and Helmy Samuel, they also cannot vote because they are Evangelical not Orthodox. 
WATANI International
8 June 2012
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