His Holiness Shenouda III celebrates 40th year as Coptic Pope

Pope Shenouda III has celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination as pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Nearly 5000 Copts and Eastern Orthodox patriarchs took part in a celebration event held at the papal office in Abbasseya.

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf sent a letter of congratulations to the pope, promising to personally visit him soon.

A number of public figures also attended the celebration, including former Deputy Prime Minister Yehia al-Gamal, Vice President of the Supreme Constitutional Court Tahani al-Gebali, and former MP Georgette Qellini.

Members from the Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic activist group, were also present.

Earlier press reports had said the pope intended to cancel the event, probably in protest at the bloody incident that took place outside the Maspero state television building on 9 October. That night, military vehicles reportedly ran over Coptic-led demonstrators decrying recent attacks on churches around Egypt. Twenty-eight people were killed in the violence.

Several human rights groups and activists have accused the armed forces of a deliberately violent response to the protests. Army officials have denied this accusation.

Relations between the military and the Coptic community have degraded as a result of the Maspero incident.


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