Following the selection of Bishop Tawadros II as new pope of the Egyptian Coptic Church on 5 November 2012, the World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary congratulated him for his new role in leading the Coptic Christians, the largest Christian community in the Arab world.
Bishop Tawadros will be the 118th Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, replacing the WCC former president Pope Shenouda III, who died in March this year.
“It is with gratitude to God that I congratulate you on behalf of the fellowship of Christian churches,” said the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the WCC.
“We are aware of your striving towards unity and love between the various communities in Egypt and we pray that your ministry, in these uncertain times, will be strong in the quest for freedom, equality, justice and peace,” said Tveit in his letter to the new leader.
“We believe that the voice of the steady Coptic Orthodox Church will remain strong under your guidance and your witness to the Lord will bring new breath to the long and honorable history of the Coptic Orthodox Church,” he added.
Dr Tveit expressed his hopes that under Tawadros’ leadership the Coptic Orthodox Church will continue to expand its commitment to Christian unity and inter-religious respect.
He wished him success in serving the common good of Egypt and its Coptic Christians for a positive future, ensuring peace and harmony among its people.
Dr Tveit also went on to say that he wishes to see the Coptic Orthodox Church continue its strong ecumenical relations with the WCC adding to the efforts for justice and peace, promoted tirelessly by the late Pope Shenouda.
Born in November 1952, Bishop Tawadros is a theologian and has served as bishop of the Egyptian Nile province of Beheira. He also studied pharmacy in Alexandria and later pursued his post-graduate studies in Britain.
Bishop Tawadros’ selection took place in a special mass in Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral, where a blindfolded boy picked out his name from the ballot.
Bishop Tawadros’ inauguration as the new pope will take place on 18 November 2012.
Also on Ekklesia:
* 'Will the new Coptic Pope also herald a New Era?', by Harry Hagopian - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17308