Pope Benedict XVI of the Roman Catholic Church said that he is confident that Pope Tawadros II, the newly elected Coptic Orthodox pope, will be “an effective partner … in building the new Egypt in peace and harmony, serving the common good and the good of the entire Middle East.”
In a message to Tawadros published on the Vatican’s website, Pope Benedict XVI said, “I was filled with joy on learning of your election as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark and I gladly extend to you and to the clergy and faithful of the Coptic Orthodox Church my good wishes and prayerful solidarity.”
Tawadros was chosen in a ceremony at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Abbasseya on Sunday. The 60-year-old pope, the 118th to lead a church that traces its origins back to the early era of Christianity, has taken the helm when many of the Christians who make up about a tenth of the nation's 83 million people, constituting the largest religious minority in the Middle East, are increasingly fearful about their future under a state dominated by Islamists and their allies.
Benedict later expressed his wishes to continue the dialogue between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, supported by the late Pope Shenouda III.
Two years after he claimed his papacy, Shenouda was hosted by the late Pope Paul VI. In 2000, Shenouda met with Pope John Paul II religious leaders met for the second time in Cairo.
"I am confident that, like your renowned predecessor Pope Shenouda III, you will be a genuine spiritual father for your people and an effective partner with all your fellow-citizens in building the new Egypt in peace and harmony, serving the common good and the good of the entire Middle East,” the Roman Catholic pontiff wrote in a letter published by Vatican Radio’s website.Tags: Pope of Alexandria, Coptic Orthodox Church, peace and harmony, the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic pontiff, Pope Paul VI, Coptic Orthodox pope
Pope Benedict XVI says the scandal over leaked documents now rocking the Vatican has “saddened me in my heart” and that he wants to publicly express his trust in his closest advisers.Tags: Pope Benedict XVI
More than a year after freezing relations with the Catholic Church, Al-Azhar’s grand sheikh is still waiting for an apology from the pope for statements the pontiff made.
The revered Islamic institution decided in January of last year to freeze a semi-annual meeting between Vatican and Al-Azhar scholars in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s earlier statement that Christians suffer from discrimination in the Middle East. Tayyeb said relations could exist as long as the Vatican does not issue statements critical of Muslims.
Tayyeb said Wednesday that relations would remain on hold until the pope officially apologizes.
“Dialogue with the Vatican was frozen, but dialogue with the Catholic people is still ongoing all over the world,” said Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb during a meeting at Al-Azhar with Italian Ambassador to Egypt Claudio Pacifico.
The joint meeting was established in 1997 and held twice a year to discuss cooperation between the two religious institutions. It had previously been criticized for only airing general issues and common problems without broaching issues related to faith.
Al-Azhar has halted the meeting several times since its creation due to what it deemed hostile statements from the Vatican regarding Islam.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-YoumTags: the Catholic Church, Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI released a message saying that the Catholic Church shares the pain of the Copts over Pope Shenouda III’s death on Saturday.
Benedict sent a condolence message to Coptic Christians on Sunday following the death of Pope Shenouda at age 89.
“Upon learning of the sad departure to God, our common Father, of His Holiness Shenouda III, Patriarch of Alexandria on the See of Saint Mark the Evangelist, I wish to express to the members of the Holy Synod, to the priests and the faithful of the Patriarchate, my most sincere brotherly compassion,” the message said.
Shenouda led the Coptic Church in Egypt for more than 40 years, amid increasing sectarian tensions in the country. Copts make up an estimated 10 percent of Egypt’s population. Pope Benedict has called for greater protections for Egypt’s Christians after a recent surge in attacks, but his brief message Sunday focused only on conveying condolences and prayer for Shenouda, God’s “faithful servant.”
Pope John Paul II met with Shenouda during his 2000 trip to Cairo and Pope Paul VI hosted Shenouda at the Vatican in 1973.
“I recall with gratitude his commitment to Christian unity, including his memorable visit to my predecessor Pope Paul VI and their signing of the Joint Declaration of Faith in the Incarnation of the Son of God together in Rome, on 10 May 1973, as well as his Cairo meeting with Pope John Paul II during the Great Jubilee of the Incarnation, on 24 February 2000,” Pope Benedict’s message said.
“The Catholic Church shares the grief that afflicts the Copts and stands in fervent prayer asking that He, who is the Resurrection and the Life, might welcome his faithful servant,” he added.
Among the Coptic community Pope Shenouda was known for his sense of humor — his smiling portrait hung in many Coptic homes and shops — and for being a deeply conservative religious thinker who resisted calls for reform.
Above all, many Copts saw him as the guardian of their community living amid a Muslim majority in this country of more than 80 million people. Christians have long complained of being treated as second-class citizens, saying they face discrimination and that the state fails to prosecute those behind anti-Christian attacks.Tags: Pope Benedict, Coptic Christians, condolence message, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Paul VI, Pope Shenouda III
The Holy See's Ambassador to Cairo, Michael Fitzgerald, visited the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Sohag Sunday and gave a copy of the Quran to headquarters’ officials as a present.
Archbishop of the Catholic Copts Youssef Abouel Khair, archbishop of the Orthodox Copts Bishop Bakhoum, a number of leaders from the Catholic and Orthodox churches and MPs from the Freedom and Justice Party in the governorate accompanied Fitzgerald during the visit.
Pope Benedict XVI is following the changes taking place in Egypt with much interest and relays his love and respect for the Egyptian people, said Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald also congratulated the Muslim Brotherhood for the FJP’s victory in parliamentary elections.
The Muslim Brothers are now in a great position of leadership and responsibility, he said, adding that he prays for God to guide them toward righteousness in their handling this burden. Fitzgerald confirmed that the Catholic Church leaves the choice to the people and does not support any party.
Fitzgerald stressed the support of Catholics for religious freedoms including the freedom to practice religious rites and the right to have places of worship on the condition that they do not disturb public order. Those freedoms also include the freedom of faith and belief for everyone, as no body or government has the right to impose belief or faith on anyone, he added.
The Vatican Ambassador called for achieving equality and justice between all members of society and for all Egyptians to enjoy the values of the revolution and the nascent feeling of freedom. He also hoped that the Muslim Brotherhood works to build an Egyptian society where opportunities are equal.
An official with the administrative office of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sohag, Hammam Ali Youssef, said that the ousted regime presented a marred image of Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood to the West, but the revolution has returned the honorable image of security, love, brotherhood and the values of Egypt throughout the different Pharaonic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras of Egypt’s history.
It is time for Europe and the West to listen to the Muslim Brotherhood and know about their values, he said.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-YoumTags: Youssef Abouel Khair, Hammam Ali Youssef, Muslim Brotherhood