The Coptic Church has selected Bishop Tawadros as its new pope. He assumes the spiritual leadership of Egypt's Christian minority during a period of growing Islamist influence over the country's political institutions.
A blind-folded alter boy chose the Coptic Church's 118th pope by lot from among three candidates on Sunday, selecting Bishop Tawadros in a process traditionally believed by Coptic Christians to represent God's will.
A group of 2,500 Coptic Christians had already nominated three candidates from a field of five, after 88-year-old Pope Shenouda III died in March, ending his four decade stewardship of the Middle East's largest Christian community.
The 60-year-old Bishop Tawadros studied pharmacy at the University of Alexandria before entering the seminary. As a young man, he received a scholarship from Britain's International Health Institute. He later became a monk in 1988 and a bishop in 1997.
Sunday's selection ceremony was held in Saint Mark's Cathedral in Cairo and was presided over by the acting interim pope, Bishop Pachomius. The two other candidates for the post were 70-year-old Father Raphael Ava Mina and 54-year-old Bishop Raphael, a doctor.
Coptic Christian anxiety
Bishop Tawadros selection as pope comes as many in the Coptic Christian community have expressed growing concern about the future of their confession as political Islam gains influence in Egypt. Coptic Christians make up an estimated 10 percent of Egypt's 83 million people.
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has made huge political strides since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in the February 2011 popular uprising. The brotherhood swept the country's disputed parliamentary elections and seated the country's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi.
"Christians fear the Islamists' rule because their presence is encouraging radicals to act freely," shopkeeper Michael Georg told the Reuters news agency before the selection ceremony.
Attacks on Coptic Christians occurred during the Mubarak regime and have continued since the former president's fall from power. In October 2011, at least 26 people were killed in clashes between Coptic Christians and security forces.
slk/kms (AP, AFP, dapd, epd, Reuters)