The Coptic Orthodox church staged a ceremony rich in ritual yesterday to install its pope, Tawadros II, who Christians hope will guide them through the new, Islamist-led Egypt.
The 60-year-old pope was selected on 4 November and the ceremony yesterday, filled with incense, elaborate robes and chanting marked his formal ascendance as the 118th leader of the church.
Coptic Christians, whose church predates the arrival of Islam in Egypt, make up a tenth of Egypt’s 83 million people.
Many fear their community, the biggest Christian group in the Middle East will be squeezed to the sidelines of society under Islamists now ruling the Muslim-majority nation.
“We chose him because he is man who is obedient to God,” said Bishop Bakhomious, who was pope in the interim period after Shenouda III died aged 88 in March after four decades in office.
“God had listened to our prayers and did not wish to leave us orphans for long,” he added, as priests and bishops prayed for the new pope, dressing him in lavish embroidered vestments.