4 Nov 2012

Egypt's Coptic Christians choose new pope

9:57 pm on 4 November 2012

Coptic Christians in Egypt are choosing a new head of their church to succeed Pope Shenouda III, who died in March.

Two bishops and a monk are on the shortlist to become the 118th leader of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, about 8 million strong.

The BBC reports that attacks on Copts are on the increase, and many Copts say they are afraid of the governing Muslim Brotherhood party.

Pope Shenouda, who led the church for four decades, had urged officials to do more to address Copts' concerns.

The shortlisted candidates are Bishop Raphael, Bishop Tawadros and Father Raphael Ava Mina. They were chosen in a ballot by a council of some 2400 Church and community officials in October.

Their names will be written on pieces of paper and placed in a box on the altar of St Mark's Cathedral in Cairo.

A blindfolded boy will then be asked to draw out one of the names. Copts say this process ensures the selection is in God's hands.

The chosen man will be enthroned in a ceremony on 18 November.