Coptic Pope Dies; Reigned since 1971: Death Underscores Uncertainty for Egyptian Church

By Allen, John L., Jr. | National Catholic Reporter, March 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

Coptic Pope Dies; Reigned since 1971: Death Underscores Uncertainty for Egyptian Church


Allen, John L., Jr., National Catholic Reporter


Egypt's Coptic minority, the largest and most influential Christian community in the Middle East, already faced deep uncertainty about its future in the wake of the Arab Spring. Many Copts feel suspended between the promise of equality in a democratic state, after centuries of second-class citizenship, and the peril of an Islamic theocracy.

Now they also face a vacuum in leadership with the March 17 death of Pope Shenouda III, who for more than 40 years was the face and voice of Egypt's 10 million Coptic Christians, representing 10 percent of the national population.

Given its size and institutional footprint, Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church is seen as a bellwether for Christianity in the Middle East--and if it implodes, many analysts fear a ripple effect across the entire region.

Some Copts fear Shenouda's death may leave their church at greater risk, while others argue that it could liberate a younger generation of Christian activists to campaign directly for human rights and religious freedom, rather than taking their cues from the church's more conservative and cautious clerical leadership.

A fierce Egyptian patriot and a figure committed to ecumenism, or the quest for Christian unity, Nazeer Gayed Roufail, better known by his religious name of "Shenouda," ruled over the Coptic Orthodox church since November 1971.

Early in his tenure, Shenouda clashed with Egypt's President Anwar Sadat, insisting that he do more to combat the rise of Islamic radicalism, and was sent into exile for three years until Sadat's assassination in 1981. Under President Hosni Mubarak, Shenouda steered a more cautious course, occasionally protesting explicit attacks on Christians, such as a January 2000 assault by Salafists in Upper Egypt that left 21 Copts dead, but avoiding any commentary that could be seen as questioning the legitimacy of the regime.

Shenouda never took a position on the Tahrir Square uprisings, which led some observers to see him as quietly supporting the status quo under Mubarak.

Politics aside, Shenouda enjoyed wide esteem as a spiritual and national figure.

His death at age 88 was given extensive coverage on Egypt's state-controlled television, and the army loaned a helicopter to the Coptic church to transfer Shenouda's body to the monastery where he will be buried. Both General Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the de facto ruler of Egypt, and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb of Al-Azhar, the enormous university and mosque complex often described as the "Vatican of the Islamic world," expressed condolences.

El-Tayeb also attended Shenouda's March 20 funeral, along with some 2,000 representatives of Egypt's religious, civil and military establishment.

Within the Coptic church, Shenouda took a special interest in education for the young, instituting courses of catechesis and faith formation even in the smallest and most remote settings. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Coptic Pope Dies; Reigned since 1971: Death Underscores Uncertainty for Egyptian Church
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.