(The body of Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, is displayed for public viewing inside the Abbasiya Cathedral in Cairo March 18, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Pope Shenouda, who died on Saturday at the age of 88, was Egypt’s highest Christian authority, working for more than 40 years to keep the peace between the Muslim majority and the Christian minority.

On the occasions when Christian protesters took to the streets to complain about discrimination against them, the late Coptic Pope chose to stay silent so as not to inflame tensions.

When Egypt’s Islamists won the majority of seats in parliament earlier this year in a move that privately alarmed many Christians, he chose to keep his counsel for the same reason.

“The church decided to take a silent stance and wait to see what would happen,” a church official said.