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Egypt’s new Coptic pope enthroned

Pope Tawadros II, 60, heads the Orthodox Coptic church.

Pope Tawadros II, 60, heads the Orthodox Coptic church.

CAIRO — The new pope of Egypt’s Orthodox Coptic church was enthroned Sunday in an elaborate ceremony lasting nearly four hours, attended by the nation’s Muslim prime minister and a host of Cabinet ministers and politicians.

Pope Tawadros II, 60, was elected Nov. 4, but the official enthronement ceremony was held Sunday at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo. He replaced Shenouda III, who died in March after leading the ancient church for 40 years.

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The ceremony’s climax came when the papal crown was placed on Tawadros’s head before he sat on the throne of St. Mark, the Coptic church’s founding saint.

Tawadros did not speak in the televised ceremony, but had a brief speech read on his behalf by one of the church’s leaders in which he vowed to work for the good of Egypt, with Muslims and Christians alike.

Egypt’s Christians form 10 percent of the nation’s estimated 83 million people — the largest single Christian community in the Middle East.

Christians have long complained of discrimination, particularly in the last four decades as the country’s Muslim majority moved toward religious conservatism.

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