Saturday, March 17, 2012

Egypt Coptic Orth. Christian Pope Shenouda Dies; Shenouda III Was Head of 12 Million Christians

Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christian Pope Shenouda III -- the patriarch of most of Egypt's estimated 12 million Christians -- died today (March 17, 2012) from old age, his political adviser told the Reuters website.

Bells tolled in Cairo's Abbasiya district -- site of Egypt's main Coptic Orthodox cathedral -- as the news spread.

Shenouda, 88, became the 117th Pope of Alexandria in 1971, and was popular among Egypt's Christians and Muslims alike during his four decades in power.

His successor -- who has not yet been named -- will play a central role in forging the church's position in the country after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak last year. Islamist political parties have since swept parliamentary elections and will dominate the debate over drawing up Egypt's new constitution.