Since 2002 the British Orthodox Parish of St. Mary & St. Felix at Babingley, Norfolk, has participated in the local Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by sponsoring an ecumenical lecture during The Raising of Evening Incense. This year a full church welcomed The Right Rev’d Alan Hopes, 4th Catholic Bishop of East Anglia. Introducing him to those present, Abba Seraphim spoke warmly of his predecessor, the late Bishop Michael Evans, who had been the speaker at the St. Felix ecumenical lecturer in 2005 and had also served on the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum alongside Abba Seraphim .
Bishop Alan began by reviewing the progress of the Catholic Church’s ecumenical dialogue in the fifty years since the IInd Vatican Council and its serious commitment to ecumenical dialogue with a wide range of Christian traditions, of which the dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches was very active. Abba Seraphim later recalled that the meeting between the two newly elected Popes, Tawadros II of Alexandria and Francis I of Rome, last year was hugely significant, being the first meeting of heads of churches of both Popes, and came exactly forty years after the visit of Pope Shenouda III to Pope Paul VI in Rome.
Following the Evening Service, at which Abba Seraphim was assiated by Father David Seeds from Cusworth and Deacons Christopher Barnes and Daniel Malyon, all present joined together for a very British tea party and Bishop Alan was able to talk with local members of the British Orthodox Church as well as the wider ecumenical visitors.
Abba Seraphim flew into Cairo at 1.00 a.m. on Saturday morning, 15 June, to attend the pre-Pentecost celebrations in Cairo as well as various meetings of the Holy Synod. He was met at the airport by Shenouda Mamdouh and driven to St. Mark’s Centre in Nasr City. After a brief sleep he breakfasted with His Grace Abba Athanasius of the French Coptic Orthodox Church. He was later joined by Father Arsanios Anba Boula and Mrs. Mary Ezzat, who accompanied him throughout his stay. Later that morning they travelled to the Patriarchate in Abbesseya, where they transacted various business before returning back to Nasr City. In the evening Abba Seraphim attended the Raising of Incense at St. Mark’s Cathedral during which His Holiness Pope Tawadros II named three General bishops as diocesans and blessed eight monks who were to be consecrated to the episcopate:
- Abba Athanasius, who has previously served as General Bishop and, since the death of Metropolitan Marcos of Toulon & All France, as locum tenens of the Metropolis of Toulon, was named as Bishop of Marseilles and Primate of the French Coptic Orthodox Church
- Abba Damian, who has previously served as General Bishop, was named as Bishop of Höxter, Brenkhausen and affiliate jurisdiction, as well as continuing as Abbot of the Monastery of St. Mary & St. Maurice in Höxter, Germany.
- Abba Salib (Pistavros), who has previously served as General Bishop for Meit Ghamir in Cairo, was named as Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Meit Ghamir & affiliate jurisdictions.
- Father Arsanios El Baramoussy, who has served for the Coptic community in Amsterdam for many years, was named as Arsany, Bishop of the Holy Diocese of the Netherlands & affiliate jurisdictions.
- Father Pavlos Anba Bishoy, who has served the Coptic community in Athens for many years, was named as General Bishop of the Holy Suffragan See of Greece and Cyprus.
- Father Louka El Baramoussy, who has been serving the Coptic community in Geneva, was named as General Bishop of the Holy Suffragan See of Southern France & Geneva.
- Father Oulogious El-Shenoudy was named as Bishop & Abbot of the Monastery of St. Shenouda the Archmandrite in Sohag, Upper Egypt.
- Father Michael El-Antony was named, Bishop & Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Anthony the Great in Kroeffelbach, Germany.
- Father Abanoub, was consecrated as a General Bishop and named as Assistant Bishop for the Patriarchal Suffragan See of El-Mokattam in the Holy Archdiocese of Cairo, assistant to the Pope.
- Father Makary, was consecrated as a General Bishop and named as Assistant Bishop for the Patriarchal Suffragan See of Shoubra in the Holy Archdiocese of Cairo, assistant to the Pope.
- Father Youssab, was consecrated as a General Bishop and named as Assistant Bishop in the Holy Archdiocese of Cairo, assistant to the Pope.
The next morning, 16 June His Holiness Pope Tawadros, assisted by the Metropolitans and bishops of the Holy Synod, consecrated the eight monks to the sacred order of the episcopate, during a Liturgy which lasted some five hours. That evening Abba Seraphim attended the first of the Synodal sub-committees, the Faith & Education Committee, which met at the Patriarchate.
On 17 June Abba Seraphim and his party visited St. George’s Convent in Old Cairo, where they were received by Mother Kyria and later visited the stained-glass workshop under Mother Parthenia. In the evening they called to visit their old friend, the deaconess, Miss Effa, who is now 93 but was very lively and pleased to see them.
On 18 June they drove some two hours from Cairo on the Alexandsria road to receive the blessing of the Monastery of Saint Thomas the Hermit of Shenshif, originally established as a 350 acre monastic farm in 1996, from 2001 it was settled by monks from St. Thomas Monastery in Sohag. Under the guidance of Fr. Abraam El Samuelly and Bishop Abraam of Fayoum it became a walled enclosure and in 2006 the church and cells were built. It was opened and blessed by Pope Shenouda III on 9 January 2010 and now has 22 monks and 17 novices, with 100 cells. Following this they travelled on to the Anafora Retreat Centre, where they had lunch and chatted with the fathers. Returning to Cairo, they visited friends in the evening.
On 19 June Abba Seraphim attended the Ecumenical Relations Synodal sub-committee at the Patriarchate before attending the Raising of Evening Incense and the Pope’s Wednesday evening lecture at St. Mark’s Cathedral.
On 20 June the Holy Synod met in plenary session at the Coptic Cultural Centre attached to the Patriarchate. Previously meetings had been held in the Chapel of the Papal Residence, but not only had Pope Tawadros found a new venue, but the excellent facilities provided, including electron voting, shows the significance he attributes to the role of the Holy Synod. Abba Seraphim returned to London that evening.
4 November. At 9.40 GMT Metropolitan Bakhomios, the locum tenens, performed his last duty in that office by unwrapping the glass ball handed to him by the blindfolded altar boy, Bishoi Mossaed (himself chosen by lot from among twelve other altar servers), and announcing the name of the 118th Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria. The Divine choice had fallen on the General Bishop serving in his own diocese, Bishop Tawadros, it being coincidentally the new Pope’s sixtieth birthday. Bishop Tawadros had been consecrated at the hands of the late Pope Shenouda on 15 June 1997, at which Abba Seraphim had been privileged to assist as a co-consecrator.
Abba Seraphim was himself travelling to Babingley when he received a message from his Egyptian secretary, Shenouda Mamdouh, which meant that in the Liturgy that morning he not only announced the joyful result of the Papal election but was able to pray for Pope Tawadros for the first time. He will travel to Cairo for the enthronement ceremony on 18 November.
The new Pope was staying at his monastery of St. Bishoy in the Wadi El N’atrun when the Lot was drawn and on being told the news, replied, “I thank the Lord for His grace; I am undeserving.” He then joined the monks at the monastery in prayers and doxologies before the shrine of Saint Bishoy. A stream of visitors, led by Metropolitan Bakhomios, soon appeared at the monastery to offer their congratulations.
His predecessor, Pope Tawadros (Theodore) I [731-742] was the 45th Pope of Alexandria.
His Holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, appears to have suffered a heart attack yesterday and was admitted to Balcha Hospital in Addis Ababa, where he is reported to have died this morning (16 August), aged 76. He had served as Patriarch since 1992.
Abune Paulos was in Cairo in March for the funeral of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, where he delivered a dignified eulogy. Only recently, on 16 July, he met with President Mohamed Mursi during the African Union (AU) leaders’ meeting in Addis Ababa.
Abba Seraphim announced that he had sent condolences to His Eminence Archbishop Antonios, the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, assuring him of the prayers of the British Orthodox clergy and faithful in their loss.
A Statement from the Clergy Synod of the Diocese of the British Orthodox Church within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate on the selection of the Patriarch of Alexandria.
At the Clergy Synod of the British Orthodox Church held on Wednesday 30th May 2012, at the Church Secretariat in London, under the presidency of His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Glastonbury, the members of the Synod considered with great care and attention the statement issued by His Grace Bishop Serapion, of the Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii, together with his Clergy Synod, meeting on Thursday 3rd May and Tuesday 8th May, 2012 and concerning the selection of diocesan bishops as candidates for election as the Patriarch of Alexandria.
The Synod, finding itself in complete agreement with the explanation of the canons and traditions of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate found in the statement issued by the Diocese of Los Angeles, wishes to express its own view that the canons and traditions lead us to understand that the translation of a diocesan bishop to the Patriarchate of Alexandria should be avoided outside of the most serious circumstances, and that the present election does not represent such a serious circumstance.
It is therefore our humble and respectful opinion that a diocesan bishop should not be considered for election to the Patriarchate of Alexandria at this time.
We pray for the peace of the Church and that the Lord may repose the soul of our beloved father, the thrice-blessed Pope Abba Shenouda III, with his saints, and to appoint for us a shepherd who will attend to His people in purity and righteousness.