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Peace Not Walls

Thousands mourn late Egyptian Copt leader Pope Shenouda III

Pope Shenouda III, the spiritual leader of the Egyptian Copts for over 40 years, died March 18, 2012. Photo from ABC news.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Coptic Christian Church in Egypt, as tens of thousands mourned the death of Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic spiritual leader since 1971 and a president of the World Council of Churches (WCC) from 1991 to 1998. In a letter to the church dated 18 March, World Council of Churches general secretary the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit paid tribute to Pope Shenouda’s unwavering pursuit of Christian unity and peace throughout the Middle East and the world.

“As a leader he taught us that modesty is the best way to serve Christ,” wrote Tveit, noting that Shenouda is remembered as “a strong believer in Christian-Muslim conviviality and cooperation. His initiatives in the field of interreligious dialogue contributed to the unity of the Egyptian people.”

Shenouda III held the ancient office of Pope of Alexandria and, as such, was a successor to Saint Mark the Evangelist who, according to tradition, brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to the great Mediterranean city in the first century A.D.

Tveit concluded his tribute with this prayer, “May Pope Shenouda’s words, witness and memory strengthen the faith of Christians in Egypt and the Middle East; and, may his soul rest in the peace of the Kingdom of God.”

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