Egypt’s Coptic Christian Church Gets A New Pope

Egypt’s Coptic Christians chose a new pope on Sunday during a process involving a blindfolded six-year-old boy who chose one of three names from a crystal chalice.

The church’s former leader, Pope Shenouda III, passed away in March, but Bishop Tawadros Theodorus II replaced him on Sunday, marking the nation’s 118th Coptic Pope, reports CNN.

Pope Shenouda III’s death lead to anxiety in the minority group, which has seen a lot of persecution by Egypt’s Muslim majority. Thousands of people took to a Cairo Cathedral to say goodbye to the 88-year-old pope, who led the Coptic Christian church for almost 40 years.

After he became the pope-designate, Bishop Tawadros stated that he would reverse the political role of his predecessor. The New York Times notes that the bishop added:

“The most important thing is for the church to go back and live consistently within the spiritual boundaries because this is its main work, spiritual work.”

Tawadros added that he will begin a process of “rearranging the house from the inside [and] pushing new blood” once he is officially installed later this month. When he appeared in an interview on Coptic television recently, he stated:

“Integrating in the society is a fundamental scriptural Christian trait. This integration is a must — moderate constructive integration. All of us, as Egyptians, have to participate.”

The turn away from politics by the new Coptic Christian Pope represents a new transformation in Egypt’s Christian minority. It also signals a change in the relationship between the Christian minority and the Egyptian state.