Vatican’s Pope Benedict XVI expresses solidarity with Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox community, following Coptic patriarch’s death on Saturday.
Pope Benedict XVI offered prayers Saturday for Egypt’s Coptic Pope Shenouda III who died on Saturday at the age of 88, a Vatican spokesman said.
The Catholic pope expressed the desire that “the Lord welcomes this great pastor,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
“We will never forget the meeting between Pope Shenouda III and Pope John Paul II in Cairo on the occasion of his pilgrimage to Mount Sinai…,” in 2000 he added.
While Benedict never met Shenouda, the spiritual leader of the Middle East’s largest Christian minority, he often spoke of the closeness he felt with the Coptic Church.
Benedict’s expressions of solidarity with the Coptic community after a 2011 New Year’s Day church bombing that killed 21 people as worshippers emerged from midnight mass strained relations with the Egyptian government.
Shenouda did however meet Benedict’s predecessor, the charismatic John Paul II and maintained strong links with the Catholic Church.
Shenouda had suffered health problems for years and recently stopped receiving treatment for liver failure and tumors or swelling in his lungs because he was too feeble, the Coptic Church said.
2012-03-18 Vatican Radio
Full text of Vatican Radio’s unofficial translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s Message of condolence for the death of Pope Shenouda III of Alexendria.
On learning of the sad departure to God, our common Father, of His Holiness Shenouda III, Patriarch of Alexandria on the See of Saint Mark the Evangelist, I wish to express to the members of the Holy Synod, to the priests and all the faithful of all the Patriarchate, my most sincere brotherly compassion.
I recall with gratitude his commitment to Christian Unity, his memorable visit to my predecessor Pope Paul VI, and their signing of the Joint Declaration of Faith in the Incarnation of the Son of God together in Rome, on May 10, 1973, as well as his Cairo meeting with Pope John Paul II during the Great Jubilee of the Incarnation, on February24, 2000.
I can say how the Catholic Church as a whole shares the grief that afflicts the Orthodox Copts, and how she stands in fervent prayer asking that He, who is who is the Resurrection and the Life, might welcome his faithful servant. May the God of all mercy receive Pope Shenouda in His joy, His peace and light.