A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Coptic Papal Candidates Down to Three

Yesterday's election involving selected Coptic electors has narrowed the number of candidates for Coptic Pope from five to three. A blindfolded child will choose the Pope in a ceremony known as the Altar Lot on Sunday.

The three finalists are two bishops and one monk. Tomorrow, Copts will begin a three-day fast to precede the Altar Lot on Sunday. The finalists are:

Bishop Rafael. The Auxiliary Bishop of Central Cairo and Heliopolis, Bishop Rafael is the best-known of the three as the Bishop for the capital's downtown area and a figure often seen on television programs. He is active in social and youth affairs and is close to the Bishop for Youth Affairs, Bishop Moussa, who had been an early favorite but was passed over. He was a one-time aide to the late Pope Shenouda III. A graduate of Ain Shams University Medical School, he has been a bishop since 1997. Born in 1954, he is the youngest of the three finalists.

Bishop Tawadros. The Auxiliary Bishop of Buheira in the Nile Delta; he is an Auxiliary to Bishop Pachomios, the locum tenens or "Acting Pope" during the transition. Tawadros, a pharmacist by training, he has been a bishop since 1997. Some consider him a key supporter of improved Muslim-Christian relations, but others claim he has not done enough to defend Copts whose churches have been attacked. He is 60 years old.

Father Rafael Ava Mina.  The oldest candidate at age 70, Ava Mina is an ordinary monk-priest, not a bishop. He was close to the late Pope Cyril VI (Kyrillos VI). A law shool graduate, he is a monk known for his piety and his writings, and is bsed at Mar Mina Monastery near Alexandria.

I expect to have more on the election later in the week.

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