(British Orthodoxy) - At a press conference at St. Bishoy’s Monastery in Wadi El N’atrun on 13 October, His Eminence Metropolitan Bakhomious, the patriarchal locum tenens, and the members of the Candidates’ Selection Committee (which has been in retreat at the Monastery since 4 October), announced the names of the five candidates, whose names will go forward for election on 24 November. They include two General Bishops, Anba Tawadros, who has served as Assistant to Metropolitan Bakhomious in Damanhur and Anba Raphael, General Bishop for Central Cairo and assistant Bishop for Youth. Both bishops were consecrated to the episcopate by Pope Shenouda on 15 June 1997. The other three candidates are all priest-monks: Abouna Raphael Ava Mina, Abouna Bakhomious El-Souriani and Abouna Seraphim El-Souriani.
The absence of any diocesan bishops in this list will remove the wide concerns in the church that the election of diocesan bishops is uncanonical and against the fundamental traditions of the Coptic Church.
Commenting on this news, Abba Seraphim stated that he was impressed with the calm and dignified way in which the process of electing our next Pope has moved forward. It is widely recognised that much of the credit for this is due to the efficient administration of the patriarchal locum tenens. Against this ethos and with the prayerful and reflective response of the people entrusted with the awesome task of voting, one felt great confidence that the Holy Spirit would make His will for the Church known. Only a spiritual leader selected in this way would possess the authority necessary to assume the heavy burdens of the papacy. Our prayers should also be for the candidates, that Gods will strengthen them in their faith and give them courage.
There will be a further three days of fasting on 19, 20 & 21 November, preceding the election.