An Non Egyptian Pope?

Do you think we will ever have a Pope who is not Egyptian? Australian, American, or perhaps from another African country(etc)? Obviously our selection of the Pope is ultimately God's will via the ballot but it feels as if for a new Pope to be really embraced and loved by his people(most of which are native Egyptians) he almost HAS to be Egyptian and speak arabic. I would love my shepherd either way but I feel like the general population would think differently. Would the clergy who vote to narrow it to 3 even vote for those candidates? Let me hear your thoughts. Happy Fasting.
Pray for me.


  • The Bylaws of 1957, which is the presiding law currently, states the pope has to be Egyptian born. The bylaws clearly need updating since they have rules that really make no sense anymore (only priests who can perform marriages can vote, etc). They also don't address issues that came up in 2012 (like the election of general bishops and diocesan bishops). Then there are issues that are historically questionable (like a candidate must be a monk whereas about 20-30 of our popes in the past were laymen). 

    Personally, I doubt nationality will change. As far as I know, there is no country that allows a president to be foreign born. Why should it be different for the election of a patriarch?
  • On top of what was said above, it would be hard for the 15-20 million Arabic speaking copts in Egypt to understand a Patriarch who isn`t fluent in Arabic. Forming a connection with them would be a challenge.
    Furthermore, Egypt is now a very political country (let along the rest of the Middle East). A patriarch who isn`t Egyptian or fluent in Arabic would have a challenging time navigating the political and social turmoil. As much as we`d like to see church separated from national matters, the church is often times swung in against Her wishes in order to think about her children`s future. I can see Muslims saying things like `He`s not Egyptian, He`s a spy`, `A traitor` and others sorts of ridiculous notions that the uneducated masses thrive and live by. It may seem ridiculous to us here in the west, but Egypt is a completely different world, and as much I`d like to see inclusiveness of all the Orthodox faithful, noble intentions shouldn`t trump the realistic scenario that is Egypt.
    There have been non-Egyptian Patriarchs in the past but that was in a different Egypt and a different dynamic between its peoples. We pray that we return to those simpler times.

  • edited February 2014
    You will have an American patriarch once America becomes an autocephalous church. Before then, it makes sense for the Patriarch of Alexandria, an Egyptian city, to be Egyptian.

    @Tobit, why should the appointment of the Pope of Alexandria, in your ideal world, promote "inclusiveness of all Orthodox faithful"? The Pope is not an international position like the head of the UN or the Olympics that are rotated around every year so that the whole world is represented. The Patriarch of Alexandria is a distinctly Egyptian position and should remain that way. Other countries should be represented through their own patriarchs of their own autocephalous churches.
  • Dear Remnkemi,

    You are very insightful to know these bylaws; but why do you correlate a Pope with a President in terms both of them requiring to be of the same nationality? 

    We have Bishops now like Anba Angaelos who hold UK passports. I'm not even sure if he was even born in Egypt.

    The Catholic Church doesn't always elect Popes who are Italian anyway. 

    I think the further we move away from nationalism in our Church, the more we have to gain.  
  • Qawe, good point. 
    I actually poorly wrote what I wanted to articulate. I actually meant someone who wasn't necessarily 'blood Egyptian' but was certainly raised there from a young age, is fluent in Arabic etc. But you're right, even that can pose it's own problems. I have no position per se, however, the more I think about it, the more I agree with the current system. It prevents unnecessary problems and the seat, as you said, should hold an Egyptian, especially in this day and age. 
  • edited February 2014

    Anba Angelos is a bishop in the UK, not the bishop (Pope) of Alexandria, so that is why he shouldn't be Egyptian.

    The Catholic Church treats the papacy as an international position since the Pope of Rome, they believe, has jurisdiction over the whole world. This is not Orthodox, and we should not seek to emulate this.

    Having an American/British/European Pope of Alexandria would actually be a sign of more, not less, nationalism in the church, as it would be making the Pope of Alexandria, Egypt into the Pope of the world. Why should the world be subject to a bishop based in Egypt? That is very Egypt-centric.
  • God must be listening in on our discussions. The Holy Synod amended the 1957 laws just last week as you can see on this site.

    They did not change the requirement for Egyptian birth. I don't think it has anything to do with global politics or imperialism. I think it simply has to do with associating with the Alexandrians. After all, he is the bishop of Alexandria. The US president has to be American because of tradition more than anything else. Of course, we don't really want someone foreign, say Russian, to be the American president because he will have allegiance to two countries. Even at the local government level, mayors and selectmen must live their respective town for this reason. 

    Personally, I think the Bylaw requirement for Egyptian birth is artificial. There were 2 or 3 past popes were born in Syria. So it is not like we would introduce anything that hasn't happened in the past if an American or European became patriarch. 

    Personally, I would like to see the bulk of the 1957 laws removed because they place local politics above historical identity. But the Holy Synod doesn't see it that way. So we'll just go with their decision.
  • As a convert who does not speak any arabic, I do agree with this. However I do think that in time and perhaps certain circumstances a non Egyptian but arabic speaking pope may be elected at some point in time. As for the laws and rules, as when they had this last election, it has not always been that way, despite what so many bishops said during its build up. When St Theophilus died, his nephew St Cyril was elected only three days afterward. Perhaps it was the turbulent circumstances which caused this, but I am not sure of any laws or tradition leading up to that point which resemble what took place a short while ago. 

    The general bishop issue is something that I think needs to be addressed. They need a clearly defined role in the church and must not be allowed to perform ordinations and what not in another bishops jurisdiction, again circumstances may permit it in very rare occasions. But this issue has become a real problem in my opinion, not only that the seeming roman mindset of some of the clergy. Some of them feel as if the laity have no right to question them or a bishop, in fact I was emphatically told that I could not speak with a bishop so naturally I did. I told this particular member of the clergy that he must feel himself greater than St Cyril because the people told him he could not canonize Ammonius, and he did not. St Cyril himself praises a member of the laity, Eusebius, for standing up in church during a sermon and accusing Nestorius of heresy. So I am not a fan of this idea that clergy cannot be questioned, they should not be disrespected but certainly they can be questioned.
  • One small correction Ioannes. Every pope from the 3rd century was "ratified" by the ruling party, whether it was the Roman emperor, the Sultan in the Arabian peninsula, the Ottoman caliph or modern Egyptian government. They were not chosen by the sovereign ruler but they were "officially" recognized by someone. So while St Cyril was elected only three days afterward, it was Emperor Theodosius II who recognized St Cyril as rightful bishop. 5 times Pope Athanasius was officially removed. So the political climate under Pope Athanasius was not the same as it was under Pope Cyril. This is important because the political situation in the 20th century was different and comparing the two has significant limitations. 

    The general bishop issue is not viewed as an issue anymore for the most part. While we would all like clearly defined duties for each clerical rite, at some point we would end behaving like the Roman Catholic church with a strict description of duties for each different magistratum. It will drive you nuts trying to make sense of it and there will still be confusion. For example, the Roman Catholic Church has a rank of metropolitan, coadjutor, auxillary bishop and suffragan bishop. Ask anyone what the difference is and you'll get a long stare. In the end, every organization allows for independence of roles. No organization functions by micromanaging and micro-defining every action of every day. The cash register working at Walmart does not need to know what duties a CFO can do or if he does a particular action that was outside his duties. They are not supposed to be privy to every detail. Why expect the hierarchy to be different? Let the synod worry about whether a general bishop has overstepped his duties. 

    The clergy have been question publicly about every issue you can think of. The problem is not an unofficial, unspoken rule that no one can question the clergy. The problem is people don't like the answer they get. So the general population takes upon themselves the authority and respect given to the clergy by Christ Himself. This happens so much more frequently than the clergy being at fault. The bishops take years learning and applying monastic virtues. These ascetic practice and spiritual growth continues when they become bishops. The general population on the other hand seems to forget what humility and obedience means. Malice and problems comes from everyone. No one is exempt from examination, whether by laity, by clergy or by God at the final judgment. It comes down to an acceptance of solutions (like the election process of the patriarch) given at a particular time for local, specific reasons - and amending them when needed - even if you don't fully agree.

Sign In or Register to comment.