Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria

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HH Pope Shenouty III, 117th Pope of Alexandria and All Africa, and Patriarch of the Apostolic See of St Mark

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria, born Nazeer Gayed, has been Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church since November 14, 1971.

Pope Shenouda was born on August 3, 1923 in Asyut, Upper Egypt, the youngest of a family of eight children. By the age of 16, Shenouda was active in the Coptic Sunday School movement. He graduated from Cairo University, attended the Coptic Orthodox Seminary, and upon graduation joined the faculty of the seminary.

He became a monk on July 18, 1954, and later became a monastic priest under the name of Fr. Antonious at the Monastery of the Theotokos Virgin Mary of the Syrians. While living as an hermit, Pope Cyril VI appointed him to be Bishop of Christian Education and President of the Coptic Orthodox Theological University, whereupon he assumed the name of Shenouda. Under his leadership, the number of students of the university tripled.

Pope Shenouda was concescrated as His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, the 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark on November 14, 1971.

During his tenure, the Coptic Orthodox Church has expanded worldwide. In 1971, there were only four churches in North America; today, there are over 100. The year 1996 witnessed the installation of the first two Diocesan bishops for the United States, one for Los Angeles and the other for the Southern United States. Mission churches have been founded in the U.S. Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, in Bermuda, and St. Kitts. Moreover, he founded the first Coptic Orthodox Church in South America in São Paulo, Brazil, and the second in Bolivia.

The Coptic Orthodox Church has also witnessed a growth in Australia and New Zealand, where there are currently 28 churches. In 1999, we witnessed the enthronement of His Grace Bishop Suriel, the first bishop for Melbourne, Canberra, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and New Zealand. In June 2002, His Holiness Pope Shenouda officially ordained and appointed His Grace Bishop Daniel, to be the first bishop with jurisdiction for the Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, and the Northern Territory, as well as South and North East Asia. In Europe, there are currently over fifty church and ten bishops. Africa currently has two bishops serving in missions in nine African countries.

When Eritrea gained political independence from Ethiopia, President Isaias Afwerki requested that the local Church be made independent from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which required approval from Alexandria. Pope Shenouda III ordained the first patriarch of Eritrea with the name "His Holiness Patriarch Philip I" (Abuna Philipos of Eritrea). This was the second ordination of a patriarch by a Pope of Alexandria in the twentieth century (the first papal ordination of a patriarch in the twentieth century occurred when Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria ordained the first Catholicos-Patriarch of Ethiopia in the 1960s.)

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H.H. Pope Shenodua III in Liturgical Vestments

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III is well known for his deep commitment to Christian Unity. In an address he gave at an ecumenical forum during the International Week of Prayer in 1974, he declared, "The whole Christian world is anxious to see the church unite. Christian people, being fed up with divisions, are pushing their church leaders to do something about church unity and I am sure that the Holy Spirit is inspiring us."

In 1973, Pope Shenouda was the first Coptic Pope to visit the Roman Pope in over 1500 years. In this visit, Popes Shenouda III and Paul VI signed a common declaration on the issue of Christology and agreed to further discussions on Christian Unity. There have also been dialogues with various Protestant churches worldwide.

Under his leadership, the Coptic Orthodox Church has become a full member of the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Church, the All-African Council of Churches, the National Council of the Churches in Christ in the U.S.A., the Canadian Council of Churches, and the Australian Council of Churches. In May 2000, he established the first ecumenical office, in the Archdiocese of North America.

Pope Shenouda has emphasized Christian Unity in his work, believing it to be found upon a unity of faith and not of jurisdiction. As a result, His Holiness has paid many visits to the various sister Orthodox churches and their patriarchs, such as those of Constantinople, Moscow, Romania, and Antioch, with the goal of a full communion of these churches with the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

His Holiness has been the editor-in-chief of El-Keraza Magazine, the official publication of the Coptic Orthodox Church, since 1962. He became the first patriarch of Alexandria since the fifth century to have been head of the Theological Seminary and continues to lecture at the Seminary branches in Cairo, Alexandria, and abroad, and at the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies. He also established other branches of the Seminary in Egypt as well as abroad. Shenouda is also the author of over 100 books.

External links


Preceded by:
Cyril VI
Coptic Pope
1971–Present
Succeeded by:
Incumbent

Template:End boxde:Shenouda III. fr:Shenouda III la:Sinuthius III Papa pl:Szenuda III

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