Child's Ballot Will Determine November Election—Of Next Coptic Pope
Image: Khaled Desouki / AFP / Getty
Child's Ballot Will Determine November Election—Of Next Coptic Pope

While Americans prepare to elect their next president on Tuesday, Egyptian Christians are leaving this Sunday's choice for their highest leader up to a higher power: God.

On November 4, one of three final candidates will succeed Pope Shenouda III, the beloved "pope of the Bible" who died in March, as the 118th patriarch of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church. But in contrast to the "group consensus" method used to select Roman Catholic popes, the casting of lots will determine whether Bishop Raphael of Cairo, Bishop Tawadros of Beheira, or Father Raphael Ava Mina, a monk from the Monastery of St. Mina near Alexandria, becomes the next spiritual leader of Egypyt's 8 million Orthodox Christians.

"It is easier to find biblical support for choosing by consensus than by lot," said Atef al-Gindy, president of the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo. "But I have observed the sincerity and genuine desire of Orthodox leaders to conduct a process that is clean and according to the will of God, seeking his guidance."

The result has been an election campaign celebrated by Coptic Christians, more than 90 percent of whom are Orthodox. Their church traces its descent from the preaching of St. Mark, the Gospel writer.

A selection committee of 18 members—divided equally between laity and clergy—whittled the potential candidates from 17 down to five. Then more than 2,400 electors, also comprised of both laity and clergy, voted Monday for their choice of up to three candidates to advance to the final stage. The final choice is surrendered to God via holy lot, allowing a blindfolded child to select the winning candidate Sunday in an altar lottery at St. Mark's Cathedral ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueEven in Canada, Conservative Churches Are Growing
Even in Canada, Conservative Churches Are Growing Subscriber Access Only
Mainline churches with evangelical leanings outpace their liberal counterparts, study says.
RecommendedISIS Church Bombings Kill Dozens at Palm Sunday Services in Egypt
ISIS Church Bombings Kill Dozens at Palm Sunday Services in Egypt
(UPDATED) Christian leader: ‘During this week of Jesus’ suffering, we will pray to God to give us protection and healing.’
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickTogether for the Gospels
Together for the Gospels: Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving
Lessons learned from illumiNations initiative could help other causes.
Christianity Today
Child's Ballot Will Determine November Election—Of ...
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

November 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.