Yesterday, the sun set on Egypt with a somber note – Pope Shenouda III, the Head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, had died after a long severe battle of illness at the age of 89.
Following the sad news, thousands poured to Abbaseya Cathedral Chruch to pay their condolences and respect.
(Update: This post was previously illustrated by a photo that was misidentified as showing the body of Pope Shendoua III)
Following his death announcement, vapid posts started spreading over the Internet about the Pope's political stand, and Pro government/SCAF positions. Many commented particularly on his stand during Maspero's massacre. Yet comments and criticism were denounced and disdained by netizens who said the Pope, regardless of his political stands, was a spiritual leader who had a strong influence over the lives of millions of Coptic Egyptians.
Numerous ‘activists’ commenting either on Twitter or on Facebook have been slandering the Pope based on his political stances. The main problem with comments condemning the Pope other than being insensitive, which they are, is that they reflect a great deal of ignorance. It is disappointing to see some people narrow minded enough to react to Pope Shenouda III only from a political perspective. It reflects a very shallow outlook on what his passing means.
Wael then continues to explain the significance and the influence of Pope Shendoua among Copts:
It would be a mistake to think that Coptic criticisms of Pope Shenouda III meant resentment or dislike. Pope Shenouda was not a controversial figure among Copts, he was a revered and respected leader that garnered much love. In his role as the head of the church, there was great satisfaction and little desire to change him. The criticisms regarding some of his actions meant to bring his attention in order to correct his course rather than a complete rejection of his person and his ideas.
Along the same lines, Gamal Asaad (@Gamal_As3d) wrote on Twitter:
@Gamal_As3d: مهما إختلفنا مع البابا سياسيا سيظل هو أبونا الروحى ومعلمنا العظيم الذى تعلمنا منه المسيحية
The body of the Pope is currently placed on the Papal Chair inside the Cathedral for people to come and pay their respect and bid farewell for the coming three days until his burial.
Pope Shenouda's will was to be buried at Wadi El Natrun Monastery, one of the monasteries he has been exiled to during President Anwar Al Sadat's era for condemning the Camp David Treaty and his infamous refusal of visiting Jerusalem under the Israeli Occupation. Adam Makary (@adamakary) finds it ironic:
@adamakary: Interesting that #PopeShenouda chose to be buried at the same place he lived in house arrest under Sadat for almost 4 yrs, Pishoi monastery
Pope Shenouda III Funeral will be held on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Metropolitan Bakhomious will serve temporarily until the elections. Bassem Sabry (@Bassem_Sabry) clarifies:
@Bassem_Sabry: Metropolitan Bakhomious will serve in place of the late Pope #Shenouda for two months, the end of which a new #Coptic Pope will be elected.