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January 31st, 2012
09:36 AM ET

Egypt's Coptic Pope in poor health, official says

By Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, CNN

Coptic Pope Shenouda III, the spiritual leader of Egypt's Coptic Christian community, is in deteriorating health, the head of the Egyptian General Coptic Association said Tuesday.

Shenouda, 88, "suffers from kidney disease and diabetes," said Sherif Doss, but said he was still "functional."

Bishop Basanti of Helwan governorate denied rumors that the pope is in a coma.

"He is well and under good medical care," the bishop insisted, saying that he would give his regular weekly address Wednesday evening.

Egypt's population is roughly 9% Coptic Christian, according to the U.S. State Department.

The Christian minority has been the subject of a number of high-profile attacks in the last several years, including the bombing of a major church in Alexandria last January that left at least 21 people dead.

Doss said he would expect 2 million Coptic Christians out on the streets for Shenouda's funeral when he dies, but predicted there would be no violence.

Shenouda has been in poor health on and off for many years.

"He has been leading the church for 38 years and is a beloved man that is highly respected," Doss said.

The Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Christian church in the Middle East, according the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in England.

In addition to millions of followers in Egypt, the church has adherents in Europe, Canada, the United States, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, the center says.

When a Coptic pope dies, all 150 bishops of the church's Holy Council appoint an acting patriarch until a vote is conducted for a successor, Doss said. Thousands of bishops, priests, and monks are eligible to vote.

The most senior bishop usually takes the role of acting patriarch. In this case, that would be Bishop Michael of Asiut. If he declines, Bishop Bakhamious of Behira is next in line, Doss said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Coptic • Egypt

soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Amara

    i have more than 30 iepnmssiors and more than 30 ikccls on my new website and there is still no earnings/estimated earnings, does anyone know why?

    March 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Veera

      Getting back to self-reported studies. I'm going to be ienvlvod in the 2011 Homeless Census count coming up on January 25th. I went to training and I had the pleasure of meeting the other census tabulators. All of them but me work in the homeless industry which is a booming field: Homeless Shelters, Homeless Counseling, Homeless Rehab, Healthcare for the Homeless, etc. I introduced myself as a hobo.When we started the training it was abundantly clear that I was the only person who ever actually talked to a homeless person where they resided, as in right outside their tent or bench. The gist of the census is that between 1AM and 5AM on a cold winter's night we are supposed to count homeless people, and hoodwink a few of them into answering 58 complex questions filled with multi-syllable words often with medical terms that I have no idea what they mean. For their answers they get a coupon for a free meal at Mickey Dees. I'm regretting not pocketing a copy of the questionnaire. Some of the more simpler questions will be: Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Have you ever spent time in prison? Do you suffer from a mental illness? Are you or have you ever been married?Given the demographic, the time of the questioning and what we know about self-reported answers, how truthful will anyone even think the results of this shindig will be? I can' wait to watch this go down!

      July 29, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  2. Decon

    The Coptic Orthodox Pope has died on Suturday, March 16th 2012.

    March 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  3. David

    I'm not sure where this guy got his information but this Doss person has everything all wrong. His Holiness has been leading the church for 40 years and he won't die soon. God is watching over him and there is no reason why you should be talking about his funeral. Second, the senior Bishop does not assume the seat of the Pope. The Holy Synod chooses 3 candidates and after a liturgy is prayed, a name is picked out of a hat at random according to God's will. Rank has nothing to do with a new pope.

    January 31, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  4. The Phist

    So, some guy is going to die because he's old. Astonishing.

    January 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer is talking with God
    Grace and truth meet in prayer
    Prayer changes things

    January 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Nope

      STEP Proved you wrong...

      Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School and other scientists tested the effect of having three Christian groups pray for particular patients, starting the night before surgery and continuing for two weeks. The volunteers prayed for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications" for specific patients, for whom they were given the first name and first initial of the last name.

      The patients, meanwhile, were split into three groups of about 600 apiece: those who knew they were being prayed for, those who were prayed for but only knew it was a possibility, and those who weren't prayed for but were told it was a possibility.

      The researchers didn't ask patients or their families and friends to alter any plans they had for prayer, saying such a step would have been unethical and impractical. The study looked for any complications within 30 days of the surgery. Results showed no effect of prayer on complication-free recovery. But 59 percent of the patients who knew they were being prayed for developed a complication, versus 52 percent of those who were told it was just a possibility.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      God waits for you with joy
      To join in prayer
      Prayer changes things

      January 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Nope

      You've been proven wrong, it makes things worse.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • just sayin

      what is being called proof is not. sorry

      January 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Nope

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      February 1, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • been there done that prayer wolrks

      sorry nope no proof from you at all

      February 1, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Nope

      "sorry nope no proof from you at all"

      Thanks for proving that you are making a desperate effort to confirm your beliefs. ;-)

      February 1, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Mavianni

      STEP both you & Dr. Herbert Benson got it wrong! Not even Jesus could heal persons in his hometown, according to The Bible, because the people there didn't BELIEVE his intercession would do them Good. Dr. Benson's research design and findings therefore are fatally flawed, because no subject being prayed for was ever asked if s/he believed that prayer would be of value. If asked, the research could then have compared 6 control groups of 300 to 600 clients each - 2 groups of persons who strongly agreed, 2 groups of persons who strongly disagreed, and 2 groups of persons who neither strongly agreed or strongly disagreed. In essence, it is well known and accepted by folk of any faith, not just Christians, that for prayer to be effective, IT MUST BE REQUESTED or BELIEVED IN BY THE RECIPIENT. All believers beware of this deception of pseudo-scientific research!

      February 5, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  6. PrimeNumber

    Those are very striking vestments the pope is wearing. That's the way the faithful want it. Like ticket holders for NFL games who pay staggering costs to dress their favorite teams.

    January 31, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  7. Colin

    Every pope, archbishop, cardinal, priest, minister, rabbi, imam, prophet, ayatolah, bishop etc., etc that has ever lived has one thing in common. They are or will be dead. Why is it that, as each nears biological finality, their sky-fairy never gives them a rcovery or otherwise reveals himself. They die like the rest of us. Hmmm, maybe we made the whole god thing up......

    January 31, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Thank goodness not one of them worships a sky-fairy of any kind.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Uncouth Swain: You have no idea what their personal interpretation of god may be. For all you know, there are thousands of people that imagine their god as a sky fairy.

      January 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • William Demuth

      It is the greatest buisness ever concieved.

      You sell something that dosen't exist to idiots who believe they can't live without it.

      It dosen't matter how many Gods we retire, because some bunko artists will create more.

      The greatest irony is once people stop worshiping, the fallen Gods usually become car models or super heros.

      So what of Jesus? When America grows up, do we make him an SUV model?

      I hope so for Jesus' sake, because otherwise the Hulk is gonna whoop his skinny rear end.

      January 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Colin

      US – perhaps you can explain to me the difference between an immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing fairy that grants wishes and will cause us to live happilly ever after we die and an immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing god that grants wishes and will cause us to live happilly ever after we die.

      January 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @sean- "You have no idea what their personal interpretation of god may be."

      If they follow their own spiritual texts....then I am pretty sure their interpretation probably is not that of a fey in the skies.

      January 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      The difference Colin? Easy...none of these ppl you listed believe in the fey...so why use the wrong terminology?

      January 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • PrimeNumber

      "maybe we made the whole god thing up......" If we asked atheists to make up a god, it would look very much like a sky fairy.

      January 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Uncouth Swain: Well, at least you've made a little progress from the definitive "not one" to the less definitive "pretty sure."

      If we keep at this, I might be able to get you to throw a "maybe" in there somewhere.

      January 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Sean, do you really think that any of those ppl really think of "God" as a sky fey? If so..why?

      January 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • George

      Actually, no. The righteous shall be resurrected and will live again.

      January 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Uncouth Swain: You said, "Sean, do you really think that any of those ppl really think of "God" as a sky fey? If so..why?"

      I don't know definitively what all those people imagine when they think of "God," nor do I have any idea what they think a "fey" or "fairy" looks like. Perhaps they hold a mental picture of god that, were they to draw it for me, I would say, "Oh, looks like a fairy."

      January 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Uncouth Swain: God kind of looks like a sky fairy to me in this reasonably famous painting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dividing_water_from_Heaven.jpg

      January 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @SeanNJ- your art opinion notwithstanding, it sounds like you don't have the foggiest notion of what these ppl think God or a fey looks like. The smart thing to do would be for ppl like Colin to use proper terminology instead of trying to be clever with their insults.

      January 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Uncouth Swain: You said, "your art opinion notwithstanding, it sounds like you don't have the foggiest notion of what these ppl think God or a fey looks like."

      I believe I already said that. I submit to you that you don't either.

      I think Colin can use any words he wants. That they seem to get you riled just makes it more enjoyable for him.

      January 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Sean- if Colin wants to use incorrect trollish terminology...he is more than welcome to. And I am more than welcome to point it out :)

      "I submit to you that you don't either."

      As I stated before...if the ppl in that list actually believe in their religious texts, then I do have an idea. An idea that doesn't include the pop culture imagery of a "fairy".

      January 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Uncouth Swain: You said, "As I stated before...if the ppl in that list actually believe in their religious texts, then I do have an idea. An idea that doesn't include the pop culture imagery of a "fairy"."

      Michelangelo's painting on the Sistine Chapel ceiling notwithstanding.

      Nonetheless, you've done AWESOME! Look how much progress we've made: "not one" to "pretty sure" to only having "an idea." Proud of ya, kiddo.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • fred

      Colin
      In the very first book of the Bible God makes it clear that when man chose to reject God and break perfect eternal unity with our creator death would be the result. That same first book made it clear that life would be filled with problems from that day forward.
      So, thank you again for encouraging me by pointing out yet another truth in the Bible that still stands today.

      January 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @SeanNJ-"Michelangelo's painting on the Sistine Chapel ceiling notwithstanding."

      Is the Sistine Chapel a religious text that anyone goes by? No.

      You haven't answered, "so why use the wrong terminology?"
      Scared? Nervous? You just don't know? Perhaps all of the above. Who knows what you think but I'll take a page from your thinking and just make up something and say you don't know what you are talking about on here. It could be incorrect, but who worries about being precise with what they say? You don't. ;)

      January 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Uncouth Swain: You said, "You haven't answered, "so why use the wrong terminology?""

      I believe I did when I said, "I think Colin can use any words he wants. That they seem to get you riled just makes it more enjoyable for him."

      I always thought you were better at debating than what you've shown here. I was trying to make a salient point that, regardless of your experience with the texts, you have no more insight into what people imagine their god to look like than I or Colin does. You choose to be petty.

      Suit yourself. My point was made to my satisfaction.

      February 1, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Your opinions matter very little Sean. I think that goes right with your view on this right?

      What you are lacking is common sense on the topic. A little bit of research would show you what the average view of what a fey is. The same amount of research would show you what the views of what God would look like (or his attributesbe). They do not mesh. I am glad you found some comfort in your statements, but that doesn't matter. Facts matter and the fact is that using inaccurate terminology and/or condoning it shows a lack of intellect.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  8. Yessir

    So many know it alls, so little humility.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Lovely irony

      You are describing yourself.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Rolph

      I guess that means the Yessir knows he knows nothing.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • William Demuth

      Humility?

      I suppose the Jewel encrusted golden crown indicates this is a humble man?

      His gold and ruby magic wand, is that humility?

      His tassled velvet robes with golden tassles and embroidery, is that humility?

      This man is a plain old bunko artist, who has made a life out of defrauding fools.

      I am pleased that when he passes he shall not meet his imaginary maker.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • PrimeNumber

      William Damuth

      "This man is a plain old bunko artist, who has made a life out of defrauding fools.." Be alert. Someone else is defrauding you even as you post.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • William Demuth

      PrimeNumber

      I know that, but she is a rehead.

      I have ALWAYS had a weakness for redheads.

      Rest assured, when I grow tired of her, she will join her sisters.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  9. mh

    May the Lord perserve your life, Oh my friend, and attend to our prayers. I love you pope Shenouda, you will always be in my heart as I am in yours.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    I'm a troll.

    Prayer won't change that.

    January 31, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • William Demuth

      Perhaps prayer made you a troll?

      Perhaps you should pray to evolve?

      January 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  11. William Demuth

    Dude looks like something out of WOW.

    They should throw him in the cage with Mubarak.

    January 31, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Lord of the Sith

      You still play WoW? SWTOR is where it's at. Especially because it takes place before Christianity was invented to fool idiots into thinking they need something that doesn't exist.

      January 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  12. jimtanker

    Is that Dumbledore or Gandalf?

    January 31, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  13. George, (not THAT one)

    I'm praying for his fabulous hat.

    January 31, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    January 31, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • AGuest9

      Lying is evil.

      January 31, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Prayer leads to all truth

      January 31, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • William Demuth

      I pray you die.

      Cheers.

      January 31, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • AGuest9

      Stop lying. It's not a positive attribute.

      January 31, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • captain america

      stop being a butt-in canadian it is nit a positive attribute. There's your sign

      January 31, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Nope

      STEP Proves you wrong...

      Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School and other scientists tested the effect of having three Christian groups pray for particular patients, starting the night before surgery and continuing for two weeks. The volunteers prayed for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications" for specific patients, for whom they were given the first name and first initial of the last name.

      The patients, meanwhile, were split into three groups of about 600 apiece: those who knew they were being prayed for, those who were prayed for but only knew it was a possibility, and those who weren't prayed for but were told it was a possibility.

      The researchers didn't ask patients or their families and friends to alter any plans they had for prayer, saying such a step would have been unethical and impractical. The study looked for any complications within 30 days of the surgery. Results showed no effect of prayer on complication-free recovery. But 59 percent of the patients who knew they were being prayed for developed a complication, versus 52 percent of those who were told it was just a possibility.

      January 31, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Mavianni

      Nope, both you & Dr. Herbert Benson got it wrong! Not even Jesus could heal persons in his hometown, according to The Bible, because the people there didn't BELIEVE his intercession would do them Good. This wasn't even a doble blind research design. Dr. Benson's research design and findings therefore are fatally flawed, because no subject being prayed for was ever asked if s/he wanted prayer and thought it would be of value; and it wasn't a double-blind research design. If subjects had initially been asked their belief and desire – bear in mind that some persons who strongly believe may still be ready to leave this world and join life on the other side - the research could then have compared 6 control groups of 300 to 600 clients each – 2 groups of persons who strongly agreed, 2 groups of persons who neither strongly agreed nor strongly disagreed, and 2 groups of persons who strongly disagreed. None of the subjects and researchers engaged with the subjects should be told if in fact prayer would be made on a subject's behalf. In essence, it is accepted by folk of any faith, not only Christians, that for prayer to be effective, IT MUST BE REQUESTED &/or BELIEVED IN BY THE RECIPIENT. Believers beware of this deception of pseudo-scientific research!

      February 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm |

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.