Egypt’s Coptic pope in rare visit to Jerusalem

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Coptic Pope Tawadros II attended the funeral on Saturday of the late Coptic archbishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East on the first visit to the Holy Land in decades by a leader of the Egyptian church.

Egypt’s Coptic pope in rare visit to Jerusalem

Egypt’s Coptic pope in rare visit to Jerusalem

Jerusalem (Undefined)

– 26 November 2015 20:00

– AFP

– 3RDLEAD

Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II arrived in Jerusalem on Thursday for the funeral of a senior cleric, the first visit by the head of Coptic Christians in decades, the church said.

He will attend the funeral of Archbishop Anba Abraham, the head of the Coptic Church in the Holy Land, who died on Wednesday at the age of 72.

The church’s Facebook page announced his arrival, sharing photos of the pope and his delegation in Jerusalem.

The funeral will take place on Saturday in the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem’s Old City, adjacent to the Holy Sepulchre, the church said.

Egyptian Copts were forbidden from visiting Israel in 1980 by their late Pope Shenouda III in protest at the Israeli occupation.

Despite the ban, hundreds of Egyptian Copts have visited Israel over the past few years during Easter.

Shenouda passed away in 2012 after leading the ancient Orthodox church for 40 years.

In an interview published on the church’s Facebook page, Tawadros said that his attending the funeral was not a visit as much as it was a “human duty”.

“I don’t consider this to be a visit because the word ‘visit’ means that one prepares it in advance with a schedule and appointments,” he said.

“I consider this to be a human duty, a condolence duty.”

A spokesman for the church in Egypt, Boulos Halim, said Tawadros would “attend the funeral and nothing more.”

“The position of the church remains unchanged, which is not going to Jerusalem without all our Egyptian (Muslim) brothers,” he told AFP.

While the body of his predecessor was returned to Egypt for burial, Abraham specifically requested a burial in the holy city, according to Halim.

“He wrote in his will that he wanted to be buried in Jerusalem,” he said.

Abraham was born in the central Egyptian governorate of Sohag in 1943. He graduated from Egyptian Agricultural College in the 1960s but became a monk in 1984.

In 1990 he became a priest, being appointed the head of the church in the Holy Land two years later.

The dominant form of Christianity in Egypt, Copts make up between six and 10 percent of the country’s estimated 90 million population.

In Israel, however, the church is one of the smaller of the 13 recognised Christian sects, with only a few hundred families.

The entrance to the Coptic Patriarchate in Jerusalem is one of the 14 Stations of the Cross — the route said to have been taken by Jesus on the way to his crucifixion.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas met with Tawadros II in Egypt earlier this month.

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Tags : jerusalem, visit, rare, pope, Coptic, Egypts

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