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November 20, 2012

Egypt's New Pope Faces Significant Challenges as Head of the Coptic Church

Screen Shot 2012-11-20 at 3.15.45 PMEgypt (MNN) ― 61-year-old Bishop Tawadros is officially enthroned as the 118th Coptic Patriarch. SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, aired the occasion in a special live broadcast.

The Coptic Patriarch is a highly-respected spiritual leader of about 8 million Coptic Christians living in Egypt. His role is significant for Christians seeking to cope with religious and social discrimination as the Islamist-majority parliament drafts a new Egyptian constitution.

The day before Tawadrous was officially installed as patriarch, acting Pope Pachomious officially withdrew the church from the nation's 100-member constituent assembly, which is responsible for drafting the post-revolution constitution.

This has brought fear in the church. They fear it will limit civil rights and deepen the influence of Sharia law.

In March, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, passed away at the age of 88. Dr. Terence Ascott, CEO of SAT-7, said, "His holiness Patriarch Shenouda was elected in 1971. Since then, the Coptic Orthodox Church has become much more international. Because of this and the fast changing political landscape in Egypt, the new Patriarch will face a very different set of challenges than his late predecessor. He needs, and has, our prayers!"

The enthronement comes at very uncertain times for Egypt's Christians. Sectarian attacks against Coptic Christians and churches in Egypt have increased since the fall of Hosni Mubarak last year. Many Christians are concerned about the rise of Islamist political forces.

Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi did not attend Sunday's enthronement. He promised tolerance and respect for all faiths in Egypt after he was elected, but that pledge has been honored in the breach.

Since then it seems pressure on Egypt's Copts has increased. Thousands are fleeing Egypt rather than choosing to live among Muslim extremists who take any opportunity to attack them.

Ask God to give the Pope grace and wisdom in his new position. Pray that the Christians in Egypt will see God's hand working in their lives.

Source: Mission Network News