Egyptian Christians Mourn Loss of Church Leader


Pope Shenuda, foemer head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt

SAT-7 International Council Extends Condolences to Coptic Orthodox Church

Limassol, Cyprus – March 28, 2012

On March 17, 2012, Coptic Pope Shenouda III died at the age of 88 as a result of health complications related to old age. SAT-7 interrupted its normal schedules to broadcast the state funeral live from St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. The SAT-7 International Council, at a scheduled meeting after the funeral, extended its condolences to the Coptic Orthodox Church, the largest Christian community in the whole of the Middle East.

Before the funeral, tens of thousands of mourners visited the pope’s body at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo to pay their last respects. The funeral service also drew thousands of mourners, many of whom were hysterical with grief at the loss of the only church leader most Copts alive today have ever known. Pope Shenouda was buried at St. Bishoi Monastery.

Pope Shenouda first started his professional career as a journalist. He went on to become one of the youngest elected popes over 40 years ago. Among his most notable accomplishments was his starting of the Sunday school movement in Egypt. SAT-7 CEO and founder Terence Ascott has said about Pope Shenouda: “He was a profound Bible teacher. Nobody knew the Bible like he did.”

The 2011 revolution, the recent election of a 70% Islamist majority to parliament, and upcoming presidential elections in May make this a very vulnerable time for the Coptic community, who comprise less than 10 percent of the population in Egypt. Going through a leadership change at the same time only adds to their insecurity and  SAT-7 joins with others in praying for transitional wisdom and God’s choice of a new Pope. Father Greiche, the Head of the Press Office of the Coptic Catholic Church, has said that the election of a pope before the election of a new Egyptian president would allow for the most freedom in selection as the Egyptian president must legally issue a decree confirming the new pope.

Last week SAT-7 broadcast a special episode of The Revealer of Secrets, which included historic video clips of the pope and his poetry. SAT-7 is currently working on a biographical documentary of Pope Shenouda.

SAT-7 is a Christian satellite TV network made by and for the people of the Middle East and North Africa.  SAT-7 makes Christ’s message of hope available to every home in the Middle East.  SAT-7 consists of five channels: SAT-7 ARABIC, SAT-7 PARS (Farsi), SAT-7 TÜRK, SAT-7 KIDS (Arabic) and SAT-7 PLUS.  For 17 years SAT-7 has supported Christians living in the Middle East and North Africa, by providing a satellite platform through which they can strengthen their churches and witness to Christ.  For more information, go to http://www.sat7.org.

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‏If you’d like more information about this topic, you may contact Dan Reeves, SAT-7 Communications Manager at danreeves@sat7.org

 

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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