I am saddened to learn the news of the passing of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Apostolic Seat of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Pope Shenouda was the 117th Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church. He served in this capacity for 40 years. Pope Shenouda entered repose on March 17th 2012, dying of natural causes at the age of 88. It is said that he was a humble man, not seeking personal honors or dignities. Previous to his election as Coptic Pope, H.H. Shenouda chose the life of a contemplative monk, living for several years in a cave in an Egyptian desert, studying and praying. The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Christian communions in the world. They trace their origin through Saint Mark’s travels to Alexandria in 42 CE. They have suffered a long history of persecution from other Christians as well as from Muslims. As recent as January 1st, 2011, 23 people died in a bomb attack of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Saint Mark and Pope Peter in Alexandria, Egypt. Pope Shenouda III was actively involved in ecumenical efforts with other Christian communions and made strides in healing some of the rifts that stem back to 451 CE during the Council of Chalcedon which caused a schism between the Coptic Church and most of the Orthodox Churches of the time.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Coptic Christians during this difficult time.