His Grace the Metropolitan of Europe was pleased to send congratulatory greetings to the Coptic Patriarchate today upon the news of the election of the new Patriarch, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa on the Holy See of St. Mark the Apostle.
In a sumptuous ritual filled with prayer, chants and incense on Sunday at Abbasiya cathedral in Cairo, the 60-year-old bishop’s name was picked by a blindfolded child from a glass bowl in which the names of two other candidates had also been placed.
They were Bishop Rafael, 54, a medical doctor and current assistant bishop for central Cairo; and Father Rafael Ava Mina, the oldest of the five original candidates at 70.
Many Copts will look to the new pope to ensure that the voice of Christians, who have long complained of discrimination in Egypt, are heard.
Acting Pope Pachomios laid on Sunday the three names, already selected in a limited vote in church last week, in plastic balls inside the chalice before starting Mass.
He selected on Saturday 12 altar boys between the ages of five and eight, one of whom was ordered to pick the name during Sunday’s ceremony.
Nearly 2,500 Coptic public officials, MPs, journalists and local councillors took part in the vote.
Strict measures were taken to ensure there was no foul play during the entire process, before a large congregation and televised. The three pieces of paper were all the same size, tied up the same way and placed in the box.
The Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa in the Holy See of St Mark the Apostle serves as the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up between six and 10 per cent of the country’s 83 million population.
Amid increased fears about the community’s future after Mubarak’s overthrow, Tawadros will be its main contact with Egypt’s first Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi.