BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati expressed his hopes that the newly chosen Pope of Egypt's Coptic Christians, Bishop Tawadros, would be an opening to inter-faith dialogue and the renaissance of the Church.
“I hope that the elections will be a new opening to dialogue and openness among Egyptian people and for the election to strengthen the Muslim-Christian unity so that the Middle East remains an oasis of peace and coexistence among all its components regardless of their affiliation,” Mikati’s press office quoted him as saying.
Tawadros, a 54-year-old doctor and assistant Bishop for central Cairo, was one of three candidates elected to replace Pope Shenuda III, who passed away in March.
“The new pope's focus, as per his previous statements, on the brotherly relations between Christians and Muslims and integration and his focus on the role of the youth and dialogue strengthen hopes of a renaissance for the Orthodox Coptic Church,” Mikati added.
Mikati traveled to Bulgaria Sunday where he is expected to meet with the country's top officials in the capital of Sofia to discuss bilateral political and economic relations.
He is also scheduled to visit Hungary Monday and meet with its president, the speaker of the house and its prime minister.
He is heading a Lebanese delegation that includes Foreign Affairs Ministers Adnan Mansour, Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour, Environment Minister Nazim Khoury and Industry Minister Vreij Sabounjia.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri also congratulated Egypt on its newly chosen Coptic pope and said the ceremony was “a democracy that should permeate in the Arab world."
“In my name and the name of the Lebanese Parliament, I congratulate Egypt, its people and the people of the East for electing a new pope for the church of faith, peace, love and renewal,” Berri said in a letter to the new pope.
He hoped that this election would strengthen Egypt’s historical status “as a gateway for freedom of religion and coexistence.”
“We await Egypt's role in fighting strife and preserving the dignity of humans,” the speaker said
“In Lebanon, we vow to preserve the bridge the people in Egypt and Lebanon have built between the two which was founded on a unifying faith between Islam and Christianity,” he said.