Bishop Tawadros Selected by Lot to Become the 118th Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church

Bishop Tawadros

Mid-Sunday morning, after three days of fasting, the Coptic Orthodox Church selected Bishop Tawadros of the Diocese of Baheira to be its 118th patriarch, succeeding Pope Shenouda III, who passed away in March of 2012. Tawadros’ name was drawn from a wax-sealed glass ball by a blindfolded child, supervised by the acting patriarch Bishop Pachomious.

Immediately after holding the paper with Tawadros’ name aloft for all to see, Pachomious then removed the other names from the remaining two balls to prevent allegations of fraud. Muhammad Hassanain Heykal, a prominent journalist, had disputed the selection of Pope Shenouda in 1971, alleging all three ballots bore the same name. Such a claim was not likely, but it resulted in doubts.

Bishop Tawadros was born in 1952 and is a graduate of Alexandria University with a degree in pharmaceutical sciences. In 1997 he was appointed as an auxiliary bishop to serve with Bishop Pachomious, now the acting patriarch. The lot was cast in his favor on his birthday, November 4, 2012.

The above excerpt is from the article I wrote for Arab West Report, reporting on Bishop Tawadros, the selection process, and issues moving forward. Please click here for the full article. Additionally, please click here for analysis from the AWR editor-in-chief Cornelis Hulsman, and here for a first-hand account from the cathedral from the managing director Hany Labib.

As for a brief description of the new pope-to-be, here is another excerpt:

Bishop Tawadros is also appreciated as one who reached out to the youth of his diocese, and kept good relations between local Muslims and Christians. He is also said to have decent relationships with Islamists.

And from the conclusion:

‘Civil society organizations can enter into confrontation with the state, but the church cannot,’ stated Sidhom. ‘Things are stable now, but it will be the time of crisis and sectarian strife that will be the real test.’

But today, and until then, Egypt’s Copts rejoice in a new leader, having asked God to grant them a ‘good shepherd’. Tawadros will need to prove himself, but he receives his position following a selection process esteemed not only clean, but spiritual – in distinction to national politics.

‘The lot lifts the election above politics as if it were for parliament.’ stated Labib. ‘The last choice is for God; this makes Christians very comfortable.’

It is a day of celebration for the Coptic Orthodox Church. May God give wisdom to their new shepherd.

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