On 14 October, Deacon Daniel Malyon graduated with a master’s degree in theology (Orthodox Studies) from Winchester University. The ceremony was held at Winchester Cathedral, a fitting place for the event, with its history back to early monastic settlements in Pre-Norman Wessex. Deacon Daniel’s studies began in 2011, as part of a part-time distance course run by Father Andreas Andreopoulos, who heads the Orthodox Studies programme at the University. His studies consisted of modules pertaining to Monasticism, Iconology, Mystic Theology, Canon Law and Mariology. As a dissertation, Deacon Daniel wrote a paper in the History of Papal Election in the Coptic Orthodox Church, examining specifically factors which influenced the system over time; a study which he intends to develop and publish in coming years.
In an unexpected move, the date for electing the new Pope & Patriarch of Alexandria has been brought forward by almost a month, so that the elections previously set for 24 November will now take place on 29 October, preceded by three days of prayer and fasting. Polling will take place between 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. Cairo time and counting will take place directly following, with the results to be announced the same evening. The three names receiving the greatest number of votes will then go forward for the Altar Ballot, which will now be held on Sunday, 4 November.
It is expected that the enthronement of the new Pope will take place on Sunday, 18 November to avoid the beginning of the Kiakh Fast, which starts on 25 November.
At a press conference at St. Bishoy’s Monastery in Wadi El N’atrun on 13 October, His Eminence Metropolitan Bakhomious, the patriarchal locum tenens, and the members of the Candidates’ Selection Committee (which has been in retreat at the Monastery since 4 October), announced the names of the five candidates, whose names will go forward for election on 24 November. They include two General Bishops, Anba Tawadros, who has served as Assistant to Metropolitan Bakhomious in Damanhur and Anba Raphael, General Bishop for Central Cairo and assistant Bishop for Youth. Both bishops were consecrated to the episcopate by Pope Shenouda on 15 June 1997. The other three candidates are all priest-monks: Abouna Raphael Ava Mina, Abouna Bakhomious El-Souriani and Abouna Seraphim El-Souriani.
The absence of any diocesan bishops in this list will remove the wide concerns in the church that the election of diocesan bishops is uncanonical and against the fundamental traditions of the Coptic Church.
Commenting on this news, Abba Seraphim stated that he was impressed with the calm and dignified way in which the process of electing our next Pope has moved forward. It is widely recognised that much of the credit for this is due to the efficient administration of the patriarchal locum tenens. Against this ethos and with the prayerful and reflective response of the people entrusted with the awesome task of voting, one felt great confidence that the Holy Spirit would make His will for the Church known. Only a spiritual leader selected in this way would possess the authority necessary to assume the heavy burdens of the papacy. Our prayers should also be for the candidates, that Gods will strengthen them in their faith and give them courage.
There will be a further three days of fasting on 19, 20 & 21 November, preceding the election.
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.