The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the largest group of Christians in the Middle East. It traces its history back 1,900 years but broke with the larger catholic church in the fifth century over a christological dispute (the Copts believe Christ has one nature, not two — the Logos incarnate).
In March, their pope, Shenouda III, died, age 88. A successor has finally been named, by a blindfolded 12-year-old picking a name out of a bowl.
[The candidates’] names were written on pieces of paper and put in crystal balls sealed with wax on the church altar.
A blindfolded boy — one of 12 shortlisted children — then drew out the name of Bishop Tawadros, who until now was an aide to the acting leader, Bishop Pachomius.
Bishop Pachomius then took the ballot from the boy’s hand and showed it to all those gathered in the cathedral.
Strict measures were in place to make sure there was no foul play during the televised ceremony: the three pieces of paper with candidates’ names were all the same size and tied the same way.
Copts say this process ensures the selection is in God’s hands.
Now, as we remember, boys and girls, Judas’s successor, Matthias, was selected by casting lots. (And those first-cenury lots weighed a ton. Some of them had townhouses and sunken pools. What’s also interesting, but not to me, is that poor Matthias, new member of the 12, was never heard from again. If Judas was the Pete Best of the bunch, I guess Matthias was Brian Epstein. Which would make Paul Yoko. OK, I’ve run this metaphor off the rails.)
I don’t see why picking names out of a bowl is any less pious or prophetic or even prudent than the way Rome does it. Just think of some of the losers who have worn the triple tiara. And certainly it would serve as a major improvement over the way mainline Protestant denominations select their leaders. In fact, a 12-year-old blindfolded boy would himself prove a better leader than TEC’s —
But I digress.
Given the seriousness of the oppression facing Coptic Christians in Egypt now, I have no desire to snark on their process. So let’s hear it for Pope Tawadros. I do not envy him his position or responsibilities.
IN OTHER NEWS: German Catholics aren’t quite sure if they’re ready to party on October 31, 2017, what with all those Lutherans in the house. And you know how they get.
The Protestants have invited the Catholics to join in, a gesture in harmony with the good relations the two halves of German Christianity enjoy and the closeness many believers feel across the denominational divide.
But even after five centuries, being asked to commemorate a divorce that split western Christianity and led to many bloody religious wars is still hard for some Catholics to swallow.
Oh, boo frickin’ hoo. We promise not to bring up Jan Hus or the Inquisition or the Vassy and St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres and you promise not to bring up the Bourbon-Habsburg rivalry.
Commemorative church services, concerts and conferences leading up to 2017 are already underway around Germany. There are also cultural events, such as a show of 800 plastic statues of Luther that filled the main square in Wittenberg in 2010.
This mix of religious, cultural and commercial activities led Feige to ask what the Catholics were being invited to join.
“Many initiatives and plans may well be justified, but it’s not always easy to find out what 2017 will be all about,” [Catholic bishop Gerhard Feige] wrote in what he called his “Ten Catholic Theses”.
OK, here’s the rule: no one is allowed to publish anything with the word “theses” in it between now and ever. Got that? Get your own iconic bullet list.
“It would be very helpful if both denominations could come to a common understanding of what happened,” [Bishop Feige] said, suggesting they could find some way to “cleanse their memories”.
Margot Kaessmann, a former Lutheran bishop who heads the preparations for the 2017 events, has said she wants Catholics to join in but turned down a Vatican suggestion both sides work out a common admission of guilt for the separation.
This is getting wacky. er. A “former Lutheran bishop”? Did she get a better gig? Is she on Survivor or something? I thought that was Lisa Whelchel.
Oh good grief, it’s five years out and already everyone’s getting on my nerves. And don’t think I don’t know it’s intentional.