Egypt's Pope Tawadros II appoints new archbishop of Jerusalem

Sunday 28-02-2016 07:42 PM

The ordination ceremony of Archbishop Theodor Antonine (L) as the new Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop for Jerusalem and the Near East by Pope Tawadros II, on Sunday, Feb 28, 2016. Handout from Pope Tawadros II's official website

CAIRO, Feb 28 (Aswat Masriya) - Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II enthroned a new Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop for Jerusalem and the Near East on Sunday.  

Archbishop Theodor Antonine was ordained in a ceremony attended by the ambassadors of Palestine and Syria, according to a statement posted on Pope Tawadros II's official website. He was ordained in the name Antonios, in honour of Saint Anotny. The latter is also known as Antony of Egypt and is considered to be the Father of All Monks, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported.

The archbishop sits at the top seat of the Coptic Orthodox in five countries, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, in addition to Jerusalem.  

In November, Pope Tawadros II went to Jerusalem on a controversial trip, where he led the funeral prayers for Metropolitan Archbishop Abraham of Jerusalem and the Near East. Archbishop Abraham, who was born in Upper Egypt's Sohag, studied in Egypt where he gained his masters degree. He died at the age of 73.

In his speech at the funeral of Archbishop Abraham's, the Pope said "it was the duty of the church to partake in the prayer ... and that I be with them to bid him his final farewell here in Jerusalem," according to a video posted on the church's website at the time.  

He added that he does not consider being in Jerusalem an official "visit", which one prepares ahead for and for which a schedule is set up. "I consider this a humane duty."

His presence in Jerusalem was the subject of heavy criticism on social media and by Egyptian public figures. It was the first such trip since a decision by the Holy Synod in 1980 banned Copts from visiting Jerusalem, the disputed city that is home to ancient holy sites for Muslims, Christians and Jews.

But the visit also had its supporters, especially among many who were not in favour of the ban on Copts to visit Jerusalem, a decision that has stopped many from embarking on important Coptic pilgrimage. 

Pope Tawadros II took office in November 2012, and despite his merely three-year papacy, Jerusalem was not his first controversial visit.

He visited the Vatican in 2013, marking the first trip by an Egyptian Pope to the Roman Catholic Church in 40 years. The two churches do not agree on the nature of Jesus, a dispute that dates back to the year 451 A.D.

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