New Coptic Orthodox pope says Egypt’s constitution must be inclusive

November 6, 2012

(Pope Tawadros II, the newly-selected 118th pope of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, speaks during an interview at the Wadi Natrun Monastery complex, northwest of Cairo, November 5, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

The new Coptic Orthodox pope said on Monday that a constitution being drafted by Egypt’s politicians must be inclusive and the church would oppose any text that only addressed one part of the Muslim-majority nation.

Pope Tawadros II, picked on Sunday in a ceremony steeped in the traditions of a church that predates Islam’s arrival in Egypt, also told Reuters that Christians should be more active in seeking to shape Egypt’s politics after last year’s revolt.

The 60-year-old pope, the 118th to lead a church that traces its origins back to the early era of Christianity, has taken the helm when many Christians who make up about a tenth of the nation’s 83 million people are alarmed by the rise of Islamists.

Christians had for decades felt shoved to the margins of society and politics. Yet, even though many joined the uprising to oust Hosni Mubarak, they now worry they will be pushed further aside by Islamists who the former president repressed.

“The beauty of Egyptian society is the presence of Muslims beside Christians. Diversity is strong and beautiful,” the pope said in an interview at a desert monastery, where a day earlier he learned his name had been picked out of a glass bowl by a blindfolded boy in an elaborate ceremony at a Cairo cathedral.

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