Monday, October 19, 2015

Coptic Pope continues tour of US

(Christian Today) - Without much fanfare and publicity, another pope has arrived in the United States for a three-week visit.

Following the footsteps of Pope Francis who made a six-day visit to the US last month, Egypt's Coptic Pope Tawadros II arrived in Atlanta on Oct. 7, his first official visit to the US since his papacy began in 2012, reports said.

On Thursday, Pope Tawadros II landed in Los Angeles International Airport, Youm7 reported. Sources said the Coptic pope is visiting the US "to maintain communication with Copts in the diaspora and to connect them with their homeland."

The Coptic pope began his visit with a reception at St. Mark Church in Los Angeles before proceeding to various parishes and dioceses including the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles and meetings with religious leaders.

The pope's three-week pastoral tour includes visits to congregations in Atlanta, Florida, Nashville and California. Upon arrival and was greeted by several bishops and members of the clergy in Atlanta, including Bishop Serapion.

Pope Tawadros II visited Nashville on Oct. 9, drawing thousands of Coptic Christians who turned up at St. Pishoy Coptic Orthodox Church, according to Fox News.

The visit of the Alexandria leader of the Christian Orthodox to the US brought some inspiration to Christians in the community and all over the world in the face of growing persecution of Christians, including Coptic Christians, in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

"As a people who are minorities anywhere they go, it is pretty huge to have your leader come here," said 20-year-old Lydia Yousief, a Copt who was born in the United States and is a student at Vanderbilt University.

While in Tennessee, the leader of the Christian Orthodox ordained two priests in Nashville and consecrated the church's newest facilities, said Fr. Pavli Ebrahim, head of St. Pishoy congregation.

"This is a historic and wonderful blessing," Ebrahim said. "He is the shepherd of our church, a kind of father figure and this is his first visit to the United States."

The 62-year-old pope, who leads 16 million Coptic Christians, was born in Wagih Subhi Baqi Sulayman in the Egyptian city of Mansoura. In 2012, he was installed as the church's 118th pope. In 2013, he visited the Roman Catholic Pope in Vatican, becoming only the second Coptic pope to ever do so, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The Coptic Orthodox Church split from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches in 450 AD in a disagreement over the true nature of Christ. It traces its roots to the first century and Apostle St. Mark.

Coptic Christians only account for about 10 percent of the Egyptian population and many of them have fled the country for fear of their lives after violent attacks irecent years.

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