Leaders from the Seventh-day Adventist world church’s department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty offered condolences to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria on the passing of Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Shenouda died on Saturday at age 88 after serving four decades as patriarch.
"The Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department offers its condolences to the Coptic Christians of Egypt, and to the people of Egypt for the passing away of Pope Shenouda III,” said John Graz, the Adventist Church’s PARL director.
“Seventh-day Adventists hope the new leader of the Coptic Christian Church, the recognized Christian Church in Egypt, will favor good relations with the entire Christian family in Egypt in its diversity and be an instrument for peace and religious freedom,” Graz said.
Graz called Shenouda a “strong leader,” recognizing his love of Egypt and devotion to national unity. Graz also noted Shenouda’s courage. He fell out of favor with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who in 1981 banished Shenouda to a desert monastery. He was reinstated four years later by Egypt’s then new President Hosni Mubarak.
Relations between Shenouda and the Adventist Church were sometimes tense. In 2003 he publically attacked Seventh-day Adventists for “disrupting unity.”
Still, Graz commended Shenouda for maintaining positive relations with Muslims. Christians and other religious minorities have increasingly suffered attacks since the overthrow of the Mubarak administration.