In a six-hour-long meeting held last Tuesday at the papal headquarters at St Mark’s cathedral in Cairo, the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church decided upon the measures to be
In a six-hour-long meeting held last Tuesday at the papal headquarters at St Mark’s cathedral in Cairo, the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church decided upon the measures to be taken towards electing a new pope after Pope Shenouda III who passed away on 17 March. The meeting was attended by the members of the Melli (Community) Council and the Coptic Endowments Authority.
Once the meeting was over, Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles Anba Serapion announced the decisions taken during the meeting.
There was consensus, Anba Serapion said, that no changes should be made to the 1957 legal code for electing the patriarch; it should act as the basis for electing the new pope.
The Holy Synod elected the 18-member committee that is to supervise the papal elections. The committee includes nine members of the clergy and nine laypersons. The clergy elected are: Anba Pachomeus of Beheira as head; and as members Anba Hedra of Aswan, Anba Benyamin of Menoufiya, Anba Pola of Tanta, Anba Abra’am of Fayoum, Anba Serapion of Los Angeles, Bishop-General of Maadi Anba Danial, abbot of St Anthony’s Anba Yustus, abbot of Baramos Anba Isidorus, and abbot of St Mina’s Anba Kyrillos. The laypersons are: Judges Nabil Mirhom; Edward Ghalib; Malak Mina; Kamal Shawqy and Munsif Suleiman; as well as the lawyer, activist, and former MP Georgette Qellini; former dean of the Coptic Studies Institute Rasmy Abdel-Malak; Wagdy Louis, director of St Fatima Schools, and Melli Council member Kamel Magdy Saleh.
According to Anba Serapion, the committee should have begun operation the following day. It should prepare and vet the preliminary list of candidates, so that their formal candidacy should be announced following the arbaeen of Pope Shenouda, which falls on 25 April. The arbaeen is the date which marks the passage of forty days after the death of a person. A religious service—in case of the Coptic Orthodox Church it is Holy Mass—is held to commemorate the dead. The tradition goes back to ancient Egypt and related to the process of mummification.
Voters outside Egypt
The Holy Synod decided that Bishops of dioceses are eligible for nomination but, if one of them is elected pope, a new bishop is only placed at the head of the diocese after the pope dies.
Another committee will be formed during the coming few days to handle the registration of voters. These will include voters in parishes added later than 1957—the date the legal code for electing the patriarch was established—such as those outside Egypt, mainly in the United States, Europe, and Australia. Voters who are members of churches which do not fall within the boundaries of established parishes will be taken into consideration, Anba Serapion said.
All said, the process of electing a new pope is expected to take no less than five months, Anba Serapion explained.
1 April 2012