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New Coptic pope, christians face persecution in Egypt

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 19th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Coptic Orthodox Church crowned a new pope Sunday, Tawadros II amid fears of persecution and discrimination. Mohammed Morsi was absent, although the Egyptian Prime Minister and other dignitaries attended the event.

CAIRO, EGYPT (Catholic Online) - Tawadros II, 60, was chosen on November 4, but the official ceremony took place on Sunday. The new pope represents 10 percent of Egypt's population, which is the largest Christian congregation in the Middle East.

Despite their size, Coptic Orthodox Christians, along with all other Christians, worry about persecution in a country now dominated by Islamists. Notably, Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, did not attend the ceremony himself, sending the Prime Minister instead. This drew criticism from attendees who felt he should have attended if he wanted to show inclusiveness.

Morsi has previously claimed he would rule inclusively, fairly representing all Egyptians.

However, this claim is becoming dubious, particularly as Egypt's new constitutions is drawn up. Christians and other minorities as well as moderate Muslims say their voices are being ignored as the conservative Muslim Brotherhood dominates the process and writes rules which make it more difficult to construct a church than a mosque.

Tawadros II told reporters that he would oppose any Constitution that only met Muslim concerns.

Meanwhile, Coptic Christians are happy to have a new pope. Applause repeatedly roared through the Cairo cathedral during the ceremony as Tawadros II, formerly trained as a pharmacist, was given red and gold vestments to wear as well as the papal scepter and crown.

The new pope did not speak during the event, but instead had a prepared statement read for him to the assembly.

Tawadros II is the Coptic Church's 118th pope.

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