Egypt’s newly elected Patriarch of Alexandria, Pope Tawadros II, has announced that he will maintain the policy of his predecessor Pope Shenouda III of discouraging Coptic worshippers from visiting Jerusalem until it is liberated. He said that Christians and Muslims will visit Jerusalem together, after its liberation.
The issue of Egyptian Copts visiting Occupied Jerusalem has been a continuous challenge for the Orthodox Coptic Pope over the years. Following Pope Shenouda’s death in March, the issue has been at the forefront of the challenges facing his successor alongside other issues arising from the new political situation in post-Mubarak Egypt.
When asked about the political developments, Pope Tawadros insisted that the Coptic Church does not fear Islamist rule, noting that the Church is proud of Egypt’s first democratically-elected civilian president. He expressed his hope that President Morsi will lead the country through a real renaissance so that Egyptians feel the benefits on the ground and not just in theory.
The Pope said that what Egypt’s Copts demand is real citizenship, adding that they are being marginalised. He didn’t rule out that the Church, even though it is primarily a spiritual institution, may adopt a stance on the presidency.