Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Coptic Pope and Patriarch Tawadros Arrives in Moscow

00 Pope and Patriarch Tawadros in Moscow. 29.10.14


His Holiness Pope and Patriarch Tawadros Sulaymān, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa of the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark, accompanied by a patriarchal delegation, arrived in Russia on 28 October 2014 ahead of a historic visit. HH Pope Tawadros will visit His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias on 29 October 2014, marking 26 years since the visit of the previous Pope of Alexandria, His Holiness the late Pope Shenouda who participated in the celebration of the Millennium of the Christianisation of Russia and the baptism of St Vladimir. His Holiness was met at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport by Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the MP Synodal Department for External Church Relations in Moscow and His Excellency Dr Mahmoud El-Badry, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Russian Federation, as well as Their Graces Bishop Kyrillos of Milan, Papal Exarch in Europe, and Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK. a delegation comprising Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta and Their Graces: Bishop Raphael, General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles and Papal secretary Father Angelos Ishak and official spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Fr Boules Haleem accompanied Pope Tawadros.

From Moscow, Bishop Angaelos said:

“This fraternal visit is important because it marks the first visit of a Coptic Pope to Russia in 26 years and marks and demonstrates the depth of relationship between our two Churches and the many commonalities we share in our heritage and experience”. There’ll be a reception for Pope Tawadros at the Egyptian Embassy on the evening of 28 October 2014, and he’ll undertake various official visits and pastoral engagements throughout the duration of his stay.

28 October 2014

The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre UK


click here and here for the patriarchia.ru coverage


I asked a friend at the Centre why HH didn’t meet Pope Tawadros. He said:

That’s ticklish. We’re not in communion, and if His Holiness were to meet Pope Tawadros at the airport, it’d imply that there was something important up regarding the solving of our problems. Happily, Pope Tawadros is meeting His Holiness, and we plan to cover it fully on patriarchia.ru. He’ll attend services, but he won’t serve. That’s sad… but that’s what the circumstances dictate. It’s a happy event.

In short, HH is feeling his oats and showing everyone (especially, Bart) that HE and NOT Bart is the Big Kahuna of the Orthodox World.



Friday, 9 November 2012

“Egypt’s Constitution Must Be Inclusive”: Patriarch Tawadros


Yesterday, the new Coptic Orthodox patriarch said that any new Egyptian constitution must be inclusive and that the church would oppose any text that only addressed the Muslim-majority of the nation. Patriarch Tawadros Sulaymān, picked on Sunday in a ceremony steeped in the traditions of a church that predates Islam’s arrival in Egypt, also told Reuters that Christians should be more active in seeking to shape Egyptian politics after last year’s revolt.

The 60-year-old patriarch, the 118th to lead a church that traces its origins back to the early era of Christianity, took up the helm when the rise of Islamism alarms many Christians, who make up about a tenth of the nation’s 83 million people. For decades, Christians felt shoved to the margins of society and politics. Yet, although many joined the uprising to oust Hosni Mubarak, they now worry they’ll be pushed further aside by Islamists, whom the former president repressed.

In an interview at a desert monastery, where a day earlier he learned that his name had been picked out of a glass bowl by a blindfolded boy in an elaborate ceremony at St Mark Cathedral in the Abbassia District of Cairo, Patriarch Tawadros said, “The beauty of Egyptian society is the presence of Muslims beside Christians. Diversity is strong and beautiful”. Three names selected in a vote were put in a bowl to choose the man who’d replace Pope Shenouda Roufail, who led Egypt s Coptic Orthodox Christians for four decades. Bearded, bespectacled, and wearing the long black robes of a priest, the new patriarch said that the constitution being drawn up by a 100-person assembly, dominated by Islamists, but also including Muslim and Christian religious leaders, liberals, and other politicians, should reflect Egypt’ diversity, saying, “If a good constitution is presented in which every person finds himself represented, there’s no doubt Egypt will develop”.

Tawadros trained in Egypt and Britain as a pharmacist before being ordained into the priesthood. Tawadros, speaking quietly and carefully in a room surrounded with pictures of his predecessor, whose death in March left many Christians feeling bereft after his long rule, said, “Then again, if the constitution addresses one part of the community and ignores another, it’d take society backwards”. Adding context to his comments, the patriarch spoke from Anba Beshoy Monastery, one of several in Wadi el-Natrun, northwest of Cairo, which flourished as Christian desert retreats when Muslim conquerors from Arabia expanded their influence across Egypt and North Africa.

No to Politics

When asked what he’d do if the constitution was too heavily loaded with Islamic references, Tawadros said, “We’d object”. He didn’t specify what he’d deem too Islamic, and said that he wouldn’t urge his flock onto the streets in protest, saying, “The Church doesn’t play any political role at all. If religion and politics meet, they ruin each other”. The new constitution drafts have more Islamic content than the Mubarak-era version, but one key article saying, “The principles of Sharia Islamic law” are the main source of legislation, remains unchanged. Hardline Salafi Muslims, a vocal force in Egypt s new politics, demand even stronger language.

Even though the church wouldn’t take political action, Tawadros said that there were kindred voices among more-liberal politicians and moderate Muslims, who also object to what they said are Islamist efforts to dominate the drafting process. Yet, the new church leader said it was time for Christians to play a bigger part in politics independently, to secure their rights, as any citizen should, after years of retreating from the public arena and leaving the Church to act as advocate.

Although Tawadros insisted he was continuing the work of Shenouda, his comments suggested a shift from his predecessor, who was criticised by some Christians for becoming too politicised and aligning himself too closely to Mubarak. Tawadros noted, “There’s development in society; the Church encourages every citizen to achieve their individual rights”, adding that post-revolutionary Egypt offered Christians a chance to express their demands more openly. He said, “I encourage my children to participate in political parties and express their opinions”.

President Mohamed Morsi, propelled to power by the Muslim Brotherhood, vowed to protect the rights of Christians and others. However, this hasn’t dispelled the fears of many Christians, who’ve long complained of discrimination in the workplace and other areas of society. Without referring to individuals, Tawadros said that he welcomed promises by Islamist politicians, but wanted “something on the ground”. He pointed to problems such as the longstanding demand of Christians to make it as easy to build a church, as it is to build a mosque. Nevertheless, he said he was optimistic for the biggest Christian community in the Middle East, saying that adversity wouldn’t deter Christians, observing, “The Christian is like a palm tree… when you throw a stone at it, it drops its dates”.

6 November 2012


As quoted in The Malaysian Insider



Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Coptic Orthodox Church to Conclave in Cairo to Elect New Patriarch


On Monday, 2,405 eligible voters will cast ballots in an election to choose the 118th Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria in the history of the Coptic Orthodox Church. In addition, five representatives from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church will attend the conclave. The final list has five nominees:

The papal election will be at St Mark Cathedral in Abbassia. Ballot counting will start immediately after the vote, and the top three winners will compete in an “altar lottery” on 4 November, before naming of the winning candidate on the very same day. The election will be in one booth, which will have eight ballot boxes, one of which will be dedicated to immigrant voters. A representative from the Interior Ministry will monitor the vote.

28 October 2012

All Africa



Yesterday, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church moved a step closer to picking a new patriarch when the shortlist was whittled down to three in a process the Christian minority hopes will deliver a leader to guide them through the upheaval of the Arab Spring. Patriarch Shenouda Roufail led the church for four decades until his death in March at the age of 88. His successor will assume the post in a fast-changing Egypt where long-oppressed Islamists are now in power… a major shift that is a source of alarm for the minority Christian community. A shortlist of five candidates went down to three by an election in which 2,256 voted out of 2,417 eligible voters. The person who emerges as the 118th Coptic Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria will be decided on 4 November, when a blindfolded child picks one of the candidates. The final three contenders are:

  • Bishop Rafael (54), who qualified as a doctor before entering the priesthood
  • Bishop Tawdros (60), who qualified as a pharmacist before becoming a priest
  • Fr Rafael Afamena (70), a monk who previously studied law

30 October 2012

Irish Times



Yesterday, clergy from the Coptic Orthodox Church began casting ballots to decide who will become the leader of the Middle East’s largest Christian minority… a process that ends with a ritual involving a blindfolded child selecting the winner at random. More than 2,400 clergymen arrived to register their vote at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, following the death of Patriarch Shenouda Roufail in March. On Sunday, the process will end with a “lottery”.

30 October 2012

The Independent


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Condolences of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev to the Coptic Church in Connection with the Death of the Coptic Pope and Patriarch Shenouda Roufail of Alexandria and all Africa

Coptic Pope and Patriarch Shenouda Roufail of Alexandria and all Africa (1923-2012)


To the Holy Synod of the Coptic Church:

Your Eminences and Graces, dear brothers in Christ!

I learned with deep sorrow the sad news of the death of His Holiness Patriarch Shenouda, who for over forty years zealously fulfilled the ministry of the First Hierarch of the Coptic Church. The whole Christian world suffered a great loss, having lost an eminent theologian, and an inspiring preacher, who for many years stood at the head of a Confessor-Church. The late patriarch showed his abundant gifts in his ministry as the First Hierarch of the Coptic Church and to the whole Christian world. His tireless work to build church life in the Coptic diaspora, his fight for the rights of the Christian minority in Egypt, his sincere desire for mutual understanding with other Christian Churches, and his numerous theological works and sermons won the late Coptic Patriarch a deserved reputation throughout the world.

We appreciate the efforts of the late Patriarch Shenouda. I remember our last meeting in Egypt in April 2010 with love and warm feelings, it testified to His Holiness’ sincere and heartfelt respect for our Church. In turn, we’ve always consistently supported and still support Egyptian Christians in the midst of their systematic persecution; we respectfully acknowledge the contribution of the Coptic Church in the preservation of traditional Egyptian monasticism and spiritual culture. I’m convinced of the need to continue our cooperation to achieve peace and justice in the Middle East and around the world, protecting the rights of Christians in places where they are violated.

May the Merciful Lord give rest to the soul of His departed servant His Holiness Patriarch Shenouda.

Вечная ему память!

With Love in Christ


Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias

18 March 2012


Official MP Website


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