Bishop Tawadros: His Life, the Church, and the World

When the candidates for the Coptic papacy were reduced to five, Bishop Tawadros, along with all the others, gave an interview on Coptic television. The full video, along with English subtitles, can be found here.

I culled the interview for useful nuggets about the pope-to-be’s background and views about church and ministry, and arranged them for an article with Arab West Report. The full text can be found here, excerpts follow below.

Tawadros was born in 1952 in the city of Mansoura. At age five his father, a landscape engineer, moved the family to Sohag for work where they remained for three years before settling in Damanhour. Here, he studied in a Coptic school run by the sister of then-Pope Cyril VI.

Tawadros’ family was very religious; many of his uncles and cousins were or became priests. His mother was originally from the area of St. Dimyana Monastery near Mansoura, and each summer would take her family there to visit. He has two sisters.

‘All our life was related to the church,’ said Tawadros.

Later on in the interview he addressed certain issues. Here is an example.

‘As Egyptians we live with our brothers the Muslims, and it is a priority to keep this unified life,’ he said.

He spoke positively about how Pope Shenouda was called a ‘safety valve’, and then answered this question in light of necessary history.

‘Look at our beautiful diversity: a Pharaohnic obelisk, a Christian steeple, and a Muslim minaret. This is the diversity that Egypt brings to the whole world,’ stated Tawadros.

‘Do our youth know these treasures? We have many common roots, and the media should focus on them.’

It had been stated in the media that Bishop Tawadros was commended as keeping good relations between Muslims and Christians, and with Islamists in particular. Labib questions the last point.

‘You cannot say that he has had good or bad relations with Islamists, as he has no relations at all, he stated.

‘He just has no clashes with anyone. I have no documented information otherwise.’

From the conclusion:

The picture provided of Bishop Tawadros is at best incomplete, but does offer a slice into his personality and upbringing. He is a faithful son of the church. He is quiet, thoughtful, and concerned about its long term internal spiritual growth. He offered few insights into issues of state or relations with Muslims, except for the necessity of mutual esteem and preservation of unity. He grounded this relationship in the diversity of Egyptian history, which in light of current politics can be understood as a nod to its identity.

Further research, of course, is necessary. Certainly Bishop, and soon-to-be Pope Tawadros will offer more than enough insight into his papacy in the days and years to come.

Please click here for the complete article.

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