Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Coptic "conclave"

A blindfolded child will deliver the final word on the election of the successor of Shenouda III, the recently deceased Coptic Pope. According to customary voting practice, the child will pull one of three cards, with various names written on them, out of a silver urn. For centuries, the Coptic Orthodox Church has chosen its leaders through this unique system, at the end of a complex, multi-step process which lasts several months.

The current procedure dates back to 1957, and thus has been used to choose the last two Coptic popes: Cyril VI, who reigned from 1959 to 1971, and Shenouda III, who led the largest Egyptian Church for the last forty years. On 31 October 1971, he, too, was chosen through the “sacred election by lot”: before the entire community, the smallest of the altar boys was given the task of extracting one of the three cards which contained the names of monks Samuel and Timothy al-Maqarinext alongside Shenouda's name. This is an ancient way to visibly demonstrate that the election has been entrusted to the will of God.

Read more about this in the Vatican Insider.

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