BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top leaders congratulated the new pope of Egypt’s Coptic Christians and the church’s followers Sunday, describing his election as an occasion to embrace inter-religious dialogue. Speaker Nabih Berri congratulated Egypt on its newly chosen Coptic pope, Bishop Tawadros.
“In my name and the name of the Lebanese Parliament, I congratulate Egypt, its people, your followers, people of the Levant for electing a new shepherd for the church of faith, peace, love and renewal,” Berri said in a telegram to the pope.
Tawadros was chosen from three candidates to succeed Pope Shenouda III, who died in March.
A blindfolded altar boy picked Tawadros’s name from a chalice in a ceremony at St. Mark’s Cathedral in the Egyptian capital. Acting head of the church Bishop Bakhomious announced the result. Tawadros, a 54-year-old doctor, had served as assistant to Bakhomious.
Berri said the way Tawadros was elected could serve as a lesson in democracy for the Arab world.
The speaker said Tawadros’ election reinforces Egypt’s historical status “as a base for dialogue, freedom of faith and coexistence,” expressing his hope that Egypt would assert its role in preventing strife and preserving the dignity of human beings.
“In Lebanon, we promise you to preserve the bridge your people have built between Egypt and Lebanon, founded on the unifying faith shared by Islam and Christianity,” Berri said.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati voiced hope that the election of Tawadros would be a chance to reinforce Islamic-Christian unity in Egypt and the Middle East.
“The new pope’s focus, as per his previous statements, on the brotherly relations between Christians and Muslims and their integration, along with his focus on the role of the youth and dialogue, boosts hopes of a renaissance for the Orthodox Coptic Church,” Mikati added.