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The Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, which has about 16 million members worldwide, including about 12 million in Egypt. The current (117th) holder of this position is Pope Shenouda III.
Following the traditions of the church, the pope is chairman and head of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria as a first among equals. This organization is the highest authority in the Church of Alexandria. It formulates the rules and regulations regarding matters of the church's organization, faith, and order. The pope is also the chairman of the church's General Congregation Council.
Although historically associated with the city of Alexandria, the residence and Seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria is located in Cairo since 1047. The pope is currently established in Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, in a compound which includes the Patriarchal palace, with an additional residence at the Monastery of Saint Pishoy.
The early Christian Church recognized the special significance of several cities as leaders of the worldwide ("Catholic") Church. The Church of Alexandria is one of these original patriarchates, but the succession to the role of Patriarch in Alexandria is still disputed after the separation which followed the Council of Chalcedon.
The later development of the Pentarchy also granted secular recognition to these religious leaders. Because of this split, the leadership of this church is not part of this system.
Members of the church recognize its head as a successor of Mark the Evangelist, considered the first Bishop of Alexandria, who founded the Church in the 1st century, and therefore marked the beginning of Christianity in Africa.
The leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is known as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa on the Holy See of St. Mark the Apostle. The Successor of St. Mark the Evangelist, Holy Apostle and Martyr, on the Holy Apostolic Throne of the Great City of Alexandria.
His full title is:
- Pope and Lord Archbishop of the Great City of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Orthodox and Apostolic Throne of Saint Mark the Evangelist and Holy Apostle that is, in Egypt, Pentapolis, Libya, Nubia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and all Africa.
- Pope and Lord Archbishop of the Great and Holy Metropolitan Archdiocese of Alexandria (Rhakotis), being:
- The Metropolitan of the Holy, Great and Ancient Metropolitan Archdiocese of Alexandria (Rhakotis), comprising:
- The Metropolitan of the Metropolitan Province of Greater Cairo comprising:
- The Holy Archdiocese of Cairo (Arcadia Ægypti), which includes:
- The Suffragan Holy Diocese of East of the Railroad District in Cairo
- The Suffragan Holy Diocese of Meit Ghamr District in Cairo
- The Suffragan Holy Diocese of Dar El Salam (Irinipolis) in Cairo
- The Suffragan Holy Diocese of Maadi in Cairo
- The Suffragan Holy Diocese of Heliopolis in Cairo
- The Suffragan Holy Diocese of El Mataria, Ain Shams and Ezbet El Nakhl in Cairo
- The Suffragan Holy Diocese of Old Cairo (Babylon), Manial and Fum El Kahlig in Cairo
- The Suffragan Holy Diocese of Shebin El Quanater, Toukh and El Khanka
- The Holy Archdiocese of Cairo (Arcadia Ægypti), which includes:
- The Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of North America, which includes:
- Elder and Chief Metropolitan Archbishop of all the Egyptian Provinces
- Primate of all Egypt, Pentapolis, Libya, Nubia and the Sudan
- Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Throne of St. Mark the Evangelist, the Holy Apostle and Martyr.
In being so, he is considered as:
- Father of Fathers.
- Shepherd of Shepherds.
- Hierarch of all Hierarchs
Honorary titles attributed to the Hierarch of the Alexandrine Throne are:
- The Pillar and Defender of the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church and of the Orthodox Faith.
- The Dean of the Great Catechetical School of Theology of Alexandria.
- The Ecumenical (Universal) Judge (Arbitrator) of the Holy Apostolic and Catholic (Universal) Church.
- The Thirteenth among the Holy Apostles.
“Pope and Lord Archbishop of the Great City of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa on the Holy Apostolic Throne of Saint Mark the Evangelist and Holy Apostle”.
The appellation of Pope has been attributed to the Bishop of Alexandria since the Episcopate of Heraclas, the thirteenth Bishop of Alexandria. All the clergy of Alexandria and Lower Egypt honored him with the appellation Papas, which means Our Father, as the Senior and Elder Bishop among all bishops, within the Egyptian Province, who are under his jurisdiction, three centuries before it was assumed by Pope John I Bishop of Rome (523- 526), who ratified the Alexandrian computation of the date of Easter. Bestowing the title on Rome's Pontiff did not strip it from Alexandria's, and the Roman Catholic Church recognizes this ecclesiastical fact.
Since Alexandria was the Capital of the Province, the preaching center and the place of martyrdom of Saint Mark the Evangelist and Holy Apostle, the title “Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa on the Holy Throne of Saint Mark the Evangelist and Holy Apostle". also known as “Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa” in short, was that of the Bishop of Alexandria.
The appellation of Pope became recognized as a title, but this did not mean that it represented a title different or higher than the title of Patriarch. Only the Patriarch of Alexandria, however, has the double title of Pope and Patriarch among the Oriental Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox Thrones.
In the Roman Catholic viewpoint, this title does not have the same meaning as that of the Bishop of Rome, who was the only Primate in the West to be given the title of Pope in the beginning of the fifth century. The title of Pope of Rome is considered by the Roman Catholic Church as the Supreme Pontiff, holding the office of the Roman See (being one of the successors of Saint Peter). On the other hand, both the Oriental Orthodox and Byzantine Orthodox Churches respond by saying that their respective heads are equal with Rome and also note that Rome has deviated too much already from their original understanding.
From the Roman Catholic Church's point of view, the Pope of Rome is elevated in dignity and jurisdiction above the other four Popes and Patriarchs of the Major Apostolic Thrones (Alexandria, Constantinople, Antioch and Jerusalem) or in other words, he is considered as their superior from the Catholic point of view. This view-point, however, is entirely rejected by the Coptic Orthodox Church, which is, in some respect, more conservative in its views and traditions.
The title Patriarch means the Head or the Leader of a Tribe or a Community. Ecclesiastically it means the Head of the Fathers (Bishops) and their congregation of faithful. This title is historically known as “Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa on the Holy Apostolic Throne of Saint Mark the Evangelist,” that is “of Alexandria and of all Africa.” The title of “Patriarch” was first used around the time of the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, convened in 431 AD, and ratified at Chalcedon in 451 AD.
The Bishop of Alexandria also has the title of Archbishop. This is a natural jurisdictional title for the Ecclesiastical Dignity of the Bishop of Alexandria. Ruling as a Metropolitan, the bishop of the Metropolis (i.e. Alexandria), had jurisdiction over the Roman Provinces of Egypt (Lower Egypt I and II, Arcadia Ægypti, Upper Egypt I and II (aka Thebais Prima and Thebais Secunda), Pentapolis, Libya and Nubia, which were at that time, the extent of the “Egyptian Provinces” within the Roman Empire. As set by the Ecumenical First Council of Nicaea 325 AD, the jurisdiction of the Archiepiscopate of Alexandria covered the above-mentioned Provinces.
But since the demise of the Latin (Roman) North African Archiepiscopate of Carthage (which covered all of North and West Africa, apart from Egypt, Pentapolis & Libya) in the 8th century, Alexandria became the sole Apostolic Throne in the entire continent of Africa (or what was known of it at that time). It is to be noted that actually, the historical evangelization of the Apostolic Throne of Alexandria in Africa, apart from Egypt, Pentapolis, Libya, Nubia and the Sudan, does extend to:
It constituted a Major Archdiocese of the Church of Alexandria, which was always governed by an Egyptian Patriarchal Vicar in the rank of Archbishop, and named Aboune Salama by the Ethiopian Church. By 1929, the Alexandrine Throne allowed the Ethiopian Clergy to participate in the governing of their own Church, and the first native Ethiopian Archbishop was enthroned in 1930 (thus becoming an Autonomous Church).
In 1959, an agreement was reached between the Ethiopian Holy Synod and the Alexandrine Throne to have their own Patriarch-Catholicos in a transitional period. The Ethiopian Archbishop ordained as Primate of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church back in 1950, was elevated by the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria Joseph II in Cairo and enthroned in Addis Ababa by the members of the Ethiopian Holy Synod and an Alexandrine delegation. The first Prelate, Aboune Basilius I (1959-1971), Patriarch-Catholicos of Addis Ababa and all Ethiopia, was ordained and enthroned in 1959, by Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria.
The Patriarchate of Addis Ababa and of all Ethiopia is now headed by its 5th Patriarch, Aboune Paulos I (1992- ). This is after the Patriarchates of Aboune Theophilus I (1971-1979) (Deposed in a non-canonical way in 1976, sent to prison and murdered in prison in 1979), Aboune Thecla Hemanote I (1976-1988) (who was elected in a non canonical manner by pressure of the then Communist Government to replace his predecessor.) and Abouna Mercurios I (1988-1991), (who resigned under pressure, due to the accusation of collaborating with the (Dereg) Menghistu Communist Regime, and who is now living in self exile in Kenya).
Aboune Paulos I has requested from the Alexandrine Throne complete independence to his Patriarchate. The Patriarchate of Addis Ababa and all Ethiopia was granted its independence in 1994, by Shenouda III Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, thus making the Patriarchate of Addis Ababa and all Ethiopia hierarchically and jurisdictionally independent “Autocephalous Patriarchate.”
Whose own Prelate, Aboune Philipos I (1998-2002), Patriarch of Asmara and of all Eritrea, was ordained and enthroned in May 1998, by Pope Shenouda III Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria. This made the new Patriarchate of Asmara and of all Eritrea a hierarchically and jurisdictionally independent “Autocephalous Patriarchate.” The Current Prelate, Aboune Antonius I (2004- ), is the third Patriarch of Asmara and all Eritrea, who succeeded Yacob I (2003-2004) the second Patriarch of Asmara and all Eritrea. However, he was deposed non-canonically in January 2006, and replaced by Aboune Discoros I. This action is however not approved by the Alexandrine Throne and is still under debate.
Both the Patriarchate of Addis Ababa & all Ethiopia and the Patriarchate of Asmara & all Eritrea do acknowledge the supremacy of honor & dignity of the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria on the basis that both Patriarchates were established by the Throne of Alexandria and that they have their roots in the Apostolic Church of Alexandria, and acknowledge that Saint Mark the Apostle is the founder of their Churches through the heritage and Apostolic evangelization of the Fathers of Alexandria.
In other words, the Patriarchate of Addis Ababa & all Ethiopia and the Patriarchate of Asmara & all Eritrea are daughter Churches of the Holy Apostolic Patriarchate of Alexandria.
In addition to the above, the countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana, Malawi, Angola, Namibia and South Africa are under the jurisdiction and the evangelization of the Throne of Alexandria. It is still expanding in the vast continent of Africa.
The Dean of the Great Catechetical School of Theology of Alexandria:
This is a customary title, which many patriarchs of Alexandria have held since the episcopacy of St. Justus (the 6th Bishop of Alexandria), and which was recently revived by Shenouda III.
The Ecumenical Judge of the Holy Apostolic and Orthodox Church of God:
This was a title given to St. Alexander I (the 19th Archbishop of Alexandria), in honor of the canonical responsibilities bestowed upon the Primates of Alexandria thereafter, to determine the date of the Pascha, and to convey ecclesiastical letters of notification to all Hierarchies of the Universal Church, along with the Paschal encyclical. This was officially agreed upon and ratified at the Ecumenical First Council of Nicaea (325 AD).
The Thirteenth among the Holy Apostles:
This title was given to St. Athanasius I (the 20th Archbishop of Alexandria), in honor of his apostolic defiance against heresies, especially the Arian heresy. He endured 5 exiles before his final victory over them, which eventually safeguarded the Orthodoxy of the Universal Church. This is why he is entitled as the "The Apostolic," meaning that he reached the level of the Holy Apostles, in his struggle to preserve and to safeguard the true Christian Orthodox Faith. He is also known as equal to the Apostles.
The Pillar and Defender of the Holy Catholic Church and of the Orthodox Doctrine:
This title was given to St. Cyril I, the Great (the 24th Archbishop of Alexandria) in memory of his heroic defense against the Nestorian Heresy and his defense of the Title of “Theotokos," attributed to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, to establish the correct theological and dogmatic explanation of the Orthodox belief in the True and undivided Divine and Human Natures of the only Son of God Incarnate, which is masterly articulated in: (Μια Φυσις τоυ Θεоυ Λογου Σεσαρκουμενε).
All these Hierarchical and Honorary titles were bestowed upon the Bishop who occupies the Holy Apostolic Throne of Alexandria, among other reasons, as a constant reminder of the greatness of this Throne, and what it has accomplished and endured in the name of the indestructible Holy Orthodox Faith.
Historical evolution of the ecclesiastical title
The head of the church of Alexandria was known just as Bishop of Alexandria since the time of St. Ananius, the first Bishop of Alexandria, who was ordained by St. Mark the Evangelist and Holy Apostle, where the latter preached and evangelized in the City of Alexandria. The title remained simply Bishop until the Church grew within and all over the Egyptian Province, and many Bishops were consecrated for the newly founded parishes all over the towns and cities.
The Bishop of Alexandria, being the successor of the first Bishop, the one who was first consecrated by St. Mark, was honored by the other Bishops as first among equals (Primus inter Pares) as a means of Church hierarchical recognition and organization. This was in addition to the appropriate honorary dignity, which was due by virtue of being the senior Bishop of the main metropolis of the Province of Alexandria, being also the Capital and the main Port of the Province.
This honor was bestowed by making the Senior Bishop an Archbishop, thus presiding in dignity of honor over all the Alexandrine and Egyptian Bishops. So was the case among other Provinces in the Roman Empire East & West (Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Caesarea, Edessa, Seleucia and many others major Metropolitanates), as the Bishops of these Major Cities, and those who were presiding over the Churches, which were first established within the region, became to be known as Archbishops.
Eventually the Archbishop of Alexandria became the first among the Bishops of the Egyptian Province, presiding in dignity, honor and jurisdiction too. This title was first officially used at the beginning of the fourth century, as it was clearly documented in the official annals & minutes of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325 AD), and in many documented historical and ecclesiastical manuscripts and books.
The local clergy of Alexandria and the Egyptian Bishops began to use the appellation of Papas when addressing the Bishop of Alexandria, St. Heraclas (the 13th Bishop of Alexandria in the middle of the 3rd Century). This was not used as a recognition of his jurisdictional authority but most essentially, as a sign of love towards their Primate. The appellation Papas was later used as a title for the Bishop of Alexandria, (sometime between the Fifth and the Seventh Century,) whose title of course, was and still is the Archbishop of Alexandria. There is a clear and distinct difference between appellation and title as mentioned above.
It is to be noted that the appellation of Papas was also enjoyed by the Bishop of Carthage by the late second & early third Centuries, most probably taken from Alexandria or from the common tradition of Pentapolis (under Alexandrine Jurisdiction) as it was quite common to call the Senior Bishop of Alexandria and the Senior Bishop of Pentapolis (who, by the way, was the second in importance and command after the Bishop of Alexandria and known as the Elder of Pentapolis) Papas. This may explain how, later on, the Bishop of Rome began to use the title of Pope; the appellation was carried over from the Bishop of Carthage.
The city of Carthage was part of the Latin Church of Rome (as the Church of Rome used the Latin language as its main Ecclesiastical Language). The name Papas or "Pope" was at that time only an appellation and was not considered as a title of jurisdiction or power or even an ecclesiastical rank higher than that of an Archbishop.
Between the Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (381 AD) and the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), the Archbishops of the Eastern and Western Roman Empires (i.e. the Archbishops of Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, also known as the Archbishops of the Ancient Apostolic Thrones), were given the title of Patriarch. These titles were ratified at the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), and henceforth were known historically as the Ancient Patriarchates of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church or otherwise as the Pentarchy.
To recapitulate, the Bishop of Alexandria was first known as the Bishop of Alexandria. Later, due to the importance and dignity of Alexandria as a Major Christian Center and as an Ancient Apostolic Throne, and in addition to the fact that the Bishop of Alexandria is the successor of the first Bishop on the Throne of Alexandria, he was given the title of Archbishop by the late Third Century. He was already called by the Alexandrine clergy and by all the Egyptian Bishops Papas, since the mid of the Third Century.
By the middle of the Fifth Century, the title of Patriarch was bestowed upon all major Apostolic thrones of the Holy Catholic, Apostolic and Orthodox Church (ratified by the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD). By this title, it meant that these Patriarchates have geographical jurisdiction based upon either the extent (domain) of the natural borders of their Provinces, or as set by Church Ecumenical Councils and/or Church Tradition.
Later, between the Fifth and Seventh Century, the appellation of “Papas” or “Pope” became somehow a title along with the Archiepiscopal and Patriarchal titles of the Bishop of Alexandria. This, however, did not mean that the title of “Pope” denoted a higher hierarchical or ecclesiastical dignity or rank than that of the title and rank of “Patriarch” given to the Bishop of Alexandria.
Accuracy in the description of the title
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It is also important to pinpoint that the most correct and accurate description of the title of the Bishop of Alexandria, while being in accordance with the Ecumenical Canon Laws of the Universal Church, is to call him: “Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa,” rather than the inappropriate title: “Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark the Evangelist”.
The first reason for this particular title, rather than the wrongly used second one, is that the title of Patriarch was, is and will never be attributed to the apostolic founder of the Throne, but rather to the jurisdictional region of the Throne (Patriarchate), which the Patriarch has under his dominion. For example:
- The Pope of Rome and Patriarch of the West for the Bishop of Rome (although the latter title was officially dropped as of 2006), but not the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of the See of Saints Peter & Paul the Apostles. \
- The Patriarch of Antioch and of all the East for the Bishop of Antioch, but not the Patriarch of Antioch and the See of Saint Peter the Apostle.
- The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Palestine (Holy Zion) and all Arabia, but not the Patriarch of Jerusalem and of the See of St. James the Apostle.
- The Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch (the Ecumeme: The land beyond what was known or what was under the dominion of the Bishop of Rome within the Roman Empire, i.e. the land of the Berber.) for the Bishop of Constantinople, but not the Archbishop of Constantinople and Patriarch of the See of Saint Andrew the Apostle.
- The Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia for the Bishop of Moscow, but not the Patriarch of Moscow and of the See of St. Andrew the Apostle or of Prince St. Vladimir (who brought Christianity to Russia).
The second reason is that the title of a Throne, and for that matter any Patriarchate, should be in accordance with the Ecumenical Canon Laws of the Universal Church (Nicea, Constantinople and Chalcedon). This stipulates that, in the case of the Bishop of Alexandria, he has under his dominion the Egyptian Provinces, Pentapolis, Libya and Nubia, (which were at that time the extent of the known, explored and civilized parts of the East African Continent.) These lands were in fact, along with the Latin Archiepiscopate of Carthage, which included the Provinces of Africa (Tunisia), Numedia (Algeria) & Mauritania (Morocco), all of what was known of the Continent of Africa at that time.
With the demise of the North African Latin Archiepiscopate of Carthage, which was under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Rome as per the Canon Law of the Ecumenical Council of Nicea; the entire north and east of the African Continent was eventually claimed and became entirely under the jurisdiction of the Pope of Alexandria. Later in history, the rest of the African Continent was discovered and evangelized and became, in reality, under the reachable jurisdiction and the dominion of the Pope of Alexandria.
If, on the other hand, the title of the Bishop of Alexandria is to be known only as “Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark,” it would imply as stipulated by this title that the “See of St. Mark” is a vague geographical jurisdiction with no defined boundaries and accordingly extends to wherever those, who are under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Alexandria, reside, without defined regional boundaries.
This means too that if whoever lives and settles outside Africa, then the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Alexandria extends to wherever he/she resides, because he/she is under the jurisdiction of the “See of St. Mark.” This is canonically wrong and would be in defiance with the Canon Laws of the Church as mentioned above; thwarting the fundamental reasons behind the definition of the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Thrones in the Canon Laws of the Church, especially when dioceses are established outside the region of the canonical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Alexandria (that is, outside Africa). This means that it constitutes a jurisdictional trespassing of the dominion of other Apostolic Thrones.
The wording of “the See of Saint Mark” could be incorporated, if desired, after the appropriate and correct title of the Patriarchate, meaning “Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa on the See (Throne) of Saint Mark the Holy Apostle ”. In like manner, the title of the Patriarchate should be “The (Coptic) Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and of all Africa” and not “The Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate” or “The Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Egypt” or the more commonly used “The Coptic Orthodox Church”.
The addition of “Coptic” is optional, because it does not constitute any official, ecclesiastical or canonical title, apart from a distinguishable designation from its Chalcedonian (Eastern Orthodox) counterpart, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and adds an ethnic flavor, which is foreign to the Apostolic Church concept of its Catholicity.
In fact, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa actually use the correct designation or title for the Patriarchate, whenever there is a reference to it: “The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and of all Africa.” Even the designation “Orthodox” is just added to differentiate between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and its Eastern Catholic counterpart.
Polity in extending pastoral care
The correct (politically correct) pastoral care that should be extended to those who reside outside the region of the canonical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Alexandria, or for that matter, any other Throne that has set jurisdictional boundaries, would be in the form of Patriarchal delegates known as “Patriarchal Exarchs”.
Forming “Patriarchal Exarchates” rather than “Jurisdictional Dioceses” outside the African continent to care for those who live outside the canonical jurisdiction of their Church and for those who wish to remain under the canonical jurisdiction and care of the Bishop of Alexandria would be the canonical way to extend such pastoral care.
In this way, the Apostolic Exarchates will not be in defiance or contradiction with the Canon Laws of the Church, but they will be considered as “Embassies of the Patriarchate of Alexandria” in these Lands (Countries), rather than “Jurisdictional Dioceses," which are outside the defined canonical jurisdiction.
The Administrators (Ordinaries/Prelates) of these Exarchates, could be Archpriests, Bishops or Archbishops; appointed as Patriarchal Exarchs of the Alexandrine Throne; this of course, will be with the proper notification and approval of the ruling Hierarchs of these Lands. This approach should be mutual between all the Ancient Apostolic Patriarchates, which has set jurisdictional boundaries.
- 10 Metropolises,out of which 7 Metropolises are in Egypt, 1 Metropolis in the Near East and 2 Metropolises are in Europe; served by 5 Metropolitan Archbishops and 4 Metropolitan Bishops, while 1 Metropolis in France remains vacant; out of the 9 Hierarchs, 1 Metropolitan Archbishop is in the Near East, 3 in Metropolitan Archbishops are in Egypt and 1 Metropolitan Archbishop is in The United Kingdom, while all 4 Metropolitan Bishops are in Egypt.
- 54 Dioceses with 37 Diocesan Bishops are in Egypt, 8 Diocesan Bishops are in Europe, 2 Diocesan Bishops are in North America, 2 Diocesan Bishops are in South America, 2 Diocesan Bishops are in Sudan and 2 Diocesan Bishops are in Australia, while 1 Diocese still remain vacant in Egypt
- 2 Suffragan Dioceses, with 1 Suffragan Bishop in Europe and 1 Suffragan Bishop in North America.
- 3 Auxiliary Bishops for 3 Dioceses in Egypt.
- 9 Assistant Bishops in Egypt for 8 Suffragan Dioceses within an Archdiocese under the Pope's jurisdiction; while 1 Suffragan Diocese still needs an Assistant Bishop.
- 5 Patriarchal Exarchates, with 3 Patriarchal Exarchs in North America and 2 Patriarchal Exarchs in Europe.
- 2 Missionary Bishops administering at large in Africa.
- 10 Bishop Abbots for 9 Patriarchal Monasteries in Egypt and 1 Patriarchal Monastery in Australia; while 1 Patriarchal Monastery in North America still awaiting the nomination of its Bishop Abbot.
- 1 General Bishop, Patriarchal Emissary at large in Egypt and abroad.
- 2 General Bishop, Administrators of Patriarchal Institutions in Egypt.
- 3 General Bishops, heading the Patriarchal Secretary Office of the Patriarchate.
- 1 Chorbishop without portfolio.
- 1 Hegumen in the capacity of Grand Economos, Patriarchal Vicar for Alexandria.
- 1 Hegumen as Administrative Patriarchal Vicar for Cairo.
Patriarchal candidates selection and election
The candidates for the Apostolic Throne of Alexandria must be at least 40 years old either, a lay person, or a monk, or a Hieromonk (Monk Priest or Monk Archpriest), or even a general bishop (not shepherding a diocese) as it has been recently the practice (although it is against the definition of the candidates of the Canon Laws). The election is done when a draw is made by a blindfolded child selected from the congregation to pick a folded paper written on it the name of the candidate, this draw is made out of the three runner finalists candidates, who are elected from several candidates through several elections made by the members of The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and the General Lay Council of the Church , rather than being elected by other clergymen.
This ceremony is done at the end of a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, presided by the Locum tenens of the Throne, along with the entire body of the Holy Synod and with the presence of all members of the General Lay Council of the Church and in front of all the congregation. The last time this was seen was in 1971 after the departure of Pope Cyril VI, where Bishop Shenouda, general bishop and administrator of the Bishopric of Christian Education became Pope Shenouda III.
In accordance with the old Coptic church tradition; for nineteen centuries it was essential that the Pope should not have been a Bishop before hand, however, Pope Cyril VI was the only Monk in the 20th century to be chosen to be the Coptic Pope without being a Bishop /Metropolitan before becoming the Pope as before him there was three Bishops / Metropolitans who became Popes; John XIX (1928-1942), Macarius III (1942-1944) and Pope Yousab II and after him Pope Shenouda III was a Bishop before becoming a Pope.
The duties of the Coptic Orthodox Pope, apart from shepherding his own diocese, are:
- To guide the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria in accordance to the orthodox faith.
- To guide the various dioceses under his jurisdiction to nominate the candidates for episcopal shepherding, and thus consecrate the Hierarchs for these eparchies.
- To consecrate bishops for various dioceses or bishoprics, to elevate bishops to the metropolitan dignity and to consecrate and enthrone Patriarchs for daughter autonomous or autocephalous churches of the Apostolic Throne of Alexandria.
- Being First among equals among the bishops of the Church of Alexandria, he exercises a brotherly leadership in all interorganizational matters among all dioceses.
- Being the Chairman of the Supreme Ecclesciastical Court, he acts as the Supreme Judge in all matters of ecclesiastical discipline with the Holy Synod approval.
- To chair the Holy Synod of the Church of Alexandria as First among equals.
- To promulgate missions to preach Christianity to various parts of the world.
- To canonize saints, through the approval of the Holy Synod. A requirement of the Coptic Orthodox faith is that at least 50 years must pass from a saint's death to his canonization, and the Coptic Orthodox Pope must follow that rule.
- Erection and consacretion of new Dioceses and new churches. Under the papacy of Pope Shenouda III, Coptic Orthodox churches in North America have multiplied by the hundreds. There are Coptic Orthodox Churches worldwide in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, England, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Brazil, Bolivia and other nations.
- Patriarch of Alexandria
- Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
- List of Coptic Orthodox Popes of Alexandria
- The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church
- Seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria
- ↑ Eusebius of Caesarea, the author of an Ecclesiastical History in the fourth century, states that St. Mark came to Egypt in the first or third year of the reign of Emperor Claudius, i.e. 41 or 43 A.D. "Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity", Otto F.A. Meinardus, p. 28.
- ↑ Eritrean Orthodox Church Diocese of North America
- ↑ news&Events
- ↑ History of the Coptic Church, Iris Habib Elmasry Volume five.
- Pope Shenouda III – official website
- Pope Shenouda III – Coptic Orthodox Church Network
- More information about the life of Pope Shenouda III – from Saint Takla Haymanout the Ethiopian Church, Alexandria, Egypt
- Common declaration of Pope Shenouda III and Pope Paul VI (1973)
- Pope Shenouda's sermons in Arabic