ETCHMIADZIN, ANTELLIAS—His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of the All Armenians and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia offered condolences on the passing of Pope Shenouda III the leader of Coptic Orthodox Christians.
Both Armenian Church leaders will be sending a delegation to Pope Shenouda’s funeral, which is scheduled to take place Wednesday in Cairo.
Pope Shenouda III, the longtime leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, died on Saturday at the age of 88.
Shenouda, the 117th Patriarch of Alexandria, ruled for 41 years amid great political turmoil. A supporter of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, he was an outspoken advocate for Christians in a predominantly Muslim nation.
Both Karekin II and Aram I praised Shenouda for his leadership of the Coptic Church and his unequivocal ability to work with all denominations to promote Christian unity.
The Primate of France, Archbishop Norvan Zakarian, the Primate of Egypt, Archbishop Ashot Mnatsakanyan and the Primate of Romania, Bishop Tatev Hakopyan will represent the Holy See of Etchmiadzin at the funeral.
The Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia will be represented by Archbishop Sebouh Sarkisian, the Prelate of Tehran and Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, the Catholicosate’s Ecumenical director.
The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, “taught us that modesty is the best way to serve Christ” and hailed him as a “strong believer” in Christian-Muslim coexistence.
Shenouda spent more than three years in exile in the desert monastery of St. Bishoy, after then-President Anwar Sadat stripped him of his powers for criticizing violence against Copts by Islamic extremists. Copts make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
Mubarak freed Shenouda in 1985. More recently, Shenouda presided over a period of danger for his flock as Copts were targeted by militant Islamic groups following Mubarak’s downfall a year ago.
Shenouda will be buried at St. Bishoy. Egypt’s ruling military council said a military transport plane will take Shenouda’s body from Cairo to St. Bishoy after the funeral, the English-language Ahram Online reported.
Coptic leaders say there is no timetable to pick Shenouda’s successor.