For Orthodox Christians the past year has been one of much upheaval and unrest. In our Oriental Orthodox family the death of the long-serving and influential Pope Shenouda III, followed a few months later by the sudden death of Abune Paulos, the Ethiopian Patriarch, removed two significant and pivotal figures. The passing of the highly respected Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Torkom II (Manoogian), though not unexpected, nevertheless was deeply felt. Our Eastern Orthodox brothers also lost Ignatius IV (Hazim), Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch for more than three decades.
These changes in spiritual leadership, coming at a time of political disruption and instability, give cause for anxiety. Despite the installation of President Mohammed Morsi, the Revolution in Egypt cannot be said to have run its course; whilst in Ethiopia the death of Meles Zenawi, controversial prime minister for the past seventeen years, leaves many problems unresolved. Syria, once a model of stability and religious pluralism, has descended into an abyss of barbarism threatening to drag the whole region down with it when it finally implodes; whilst Jerusalem is the holy city over which rival faiths bitterly contend.