Bashans 1728 / June 2012
Vol: 6 Issue: 6
"You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show whom You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship” (Act 1: 24-25)
The selection of a new patriarch is an important and vital aspect of the Orthodox Church. The patriarch of the church is always looked at as the extension of the work of the church that started by Christ choosing his Disciples, then the Disciples choosing Matthias to replace Judas and from then on the Apostles appointed successors all over the world. In Egypt it was St Mark, the writer of the second gospel, who brought the lineage of apostleship, which remains unbroken till today. Meaning that our beloved reposed Pope Shenouda III was the 117th Patriarch after St Mark. The process of selecting a successor to the Sea of St Mark is therefore a very important one and it has never been consistent. Yet as we will see the majority of the patriarchs were chosen anonymously. Yet in some cases when the choice was not clear the church resorted to the Biblical method which is an altar lot (Acts 1, 23‐26). We therefore dedicated this edition of our newsletter to present the various methods of choosing a candidate for this Apostolic ministry from the history of our church. Our role in this critical time is to be united in thought and in prayers and ride ourselves of any spirit of division and most importantly to offer prayers and supplication so that God may send us a shepherd according to His own heart.
Vision of Theophilus The Book of the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt
The Vision of Theophilus, is a story that
narrates the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt and the life which they led in that country. The story is cast in the mould of a vision and entitled Vision of Theophilus, who was Patriarch of Alexandria in A.D. 385-412.
St Mathew the poor the 87th Patriarch of Alexandria Thereupon the assembly of the people called St Mathew, and they besought him to become patriarch over them, but he did not agree, and he arose and hid himself, and he descended into a ship sailing southwards. But God forbade the wind to blow, until a little child came and directed them to the hold of the ship and the people went to him immediately, and they caused him to come up from the hold of the ship. When he knew that there was no escape for him from their hands, he thereupon besought them with many prayers that two of their companions should accompany him to the Mountain of Saint Antony to ask the advice of his fathers, the elders. At the hour in which the elders saw him, they rose up towards him, and especially the Blessed Mark (Markus) and they advised him that he should not refrain from what was ordained for him, but that he should make ready for and accept the service and be appointed patriarch. When he came to Cairo and was assured that he would become patriarch, his heart was exceedingly grieved on account of it, so that from the abundance of his grief he took a pair of steel scissors, and he cut off the tip of his tongue and he cast it before the people; and they were exceedingly grieved; and they purposed to heal him and they could not, but the Lord Who loosed the tongue of Zacharias after the dumbness, was He Who loosed his tongue, and they were assured that their shepherd was from God. Then they laid hold on him, and they consecrated him patriarch on the first day of the month of Misra in the year one thousand and ninety -four of the Martyrs (1378 A.D.). (From the History of the Patriarchs) Page 2
Electing Coptic Patriarchs: A Diversity of Traditions By: Saad Michael Saad The method of electing the Patriarchs of the Coptic Orthodox Church derives its importance from the great honor and responsibility of the Pope of Alexandria. He is the successor of St. Mark the Evangelist, the spiritual leader of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, and the overseer of a church that is becoming universal by its spread worldwide. Did the elections of the 116 patriarchs succeeding St. Mark adhere to one particular tradition, or were diverse and evolutionary? As this study will show, the elections were straightforward and simple at times. A popular departing patriarch, for example, would name his successor and consensus was achieved overnight. At the other extreme, contestants and their supporters could prolong the process for years, manipulating every piece of tradition that could support their claim, and employing connections with rulers to promote their candidate. The worst of such maneuverings occurred in the process of electing Anba Kyrillos III (1235-1243), which took 19 years to complete. By reviewing the records available on the 117 Patriarchs, we were able to group the types of election methods into nine separate categories. The methods employed ten times or more are: Election by general consensus, election by the presbyters of Alexandria, and casting of lots among final nominees. Six other methods were sporadically employed between three and seven times each. Evidently, these six methods do not represent a tradition, but as will be shown, a pragmatic response to circumstances. In addition, there were patriarchal elections that combined two methods. We listed those under the method that was more decisive than the other. For example, Anba Peter I was initially named by his predecessor, but more decisively confirmed by the presbyters of Alexandria. Election by General Consensus Of the ninety patriarchs with known method of election, thirty-five were ordained after a general consensus was achieved. In the sources, we find those elections described using the following generic statement: â€œthe bishops, presbyters, and lay leaders unanimously choseâ€? The details of the process were not usually recorded, and as expected, they varied from one patriarch to another. Election by the Presbyters of Alexandria The presbyters of Alexandria played the decisive role in the elections of at least sixteen patriarchs, most of which occurred in the earlier part of the churchâ€™s history. Until Demetrius I, twelfth patriarch (189-231), the bishop of Alexandria was the only bishop in the whole of Egypt. He presided over a council of twelve presbyters, and when he died, the twelve elected a successor from among themselves, and the other eleven laid hands on him. Page 3
Although Peter I, the seventeenth patriarch (300-311), was recommended by his predecessor Theonas (282-300) while on his deathbed to the clergy and laity present, the assembled presbyters approved the choice by a laying on of hands. This passage has been cited as evidence for papal election by the presbyters of Alexandria up to the election of Alexander, the nineteenth patriarch (312-326), whom the bishops chose. For centuries after that, even in the presence of Egyptian bishops who “laid hands” and ordained the bishop of Alexandria, the priests of Alexandria still played a major role in electing the patriarch. That role gradually lessened after the patriarchal residence was transferred to Cairo during the eleventh century. Casting Lots among final nominees When the eleven apostles cast a lot to determine whether Matthias or Joseph should be numbered with them, they set a precedent for some Coptic patriarchal elections. There were ten incidents in which a lot was used. The earliest use of casting lots was for the third patriarch, Anba Abilius (85-98), who was ordained only some fifty years after the apostles cast their lot for Matthias. Most canon law scholars of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, including Awlad al‘Assal and Ibn Kabar, recorded the casting of lots as a matter of accepted tradition especially when finalists are of equal stature. The current law, discussed later in detail, formalizes the casting of lots after a complex selection process that mandates three names in the drawing. Appointment by predecessor There are seven cases of definite appointment by a predecessor. In addition, there are seven other cases in which the predecessor’s recommendation had a degree of influence on the election, as with Anba Peter I mentioned earlier. Often, the patriarch at his deathbed would recommend his seat to the person he thought was best fit. In other cases, a deathbed wish by the patriarch would bring a candidate forward, who would then be considered among other nominees. Also, many candidates were the disciples of the previous patriarch. Because of their close relationship, they gained high visibility and experience in papal affairs. Such circumstances gave them an advantage over other candidates and helped a general consensus to be made. Strong Intervention by government Since the Christianization of the Roman Empire in the forth century, and continuing after the Arab conquest of Egypt in 640 AD, confirmation of the election of the patriarch by the ruler of Egypt has been a matter of official formality. Although the government usually left the church to have its own autonomy, it frequently extended its authority in the matter of election to a variable degree. There are six elections of patriarchs in which the government or a ruler had a definite influence on the outcome of the election, if not outright imposition. Page 4
Election by Laity Acting Alone In five cases, the archons of the church elected the patriarch. Not surprisingly, they often chose a layman or deacon, rather than a monk or priest. Election by Bishops Acting Alone There were only four cases in which the sources mentioned that the bishops elected the patriarch with no indication of participation by clergy or laity. The details of these elections, however, were not described. Possibly, the participation of clergy and laity was overlooked by the primary or secondary sources. Divine Appointment or Vision There were three other cases in which a kind of divine vision was the determining factor in electing the new patriarch. The most famous example is of Demetrius I, the twelfth patriarch (189-231). Coincidence! Some elections just seemed to be determined by chance. In two cases, after the electing council interviewed a candidate and found him unsuitable, they chose his disciple instead. In a third case, during the election of the sixty-fourth patriarch, news reached the still undecided electing council in Alexandria that a rich merchant donated money to the ruler, al-Hakim bi Amr Allah, to secure a decree appointing him as patriarch. A poor priest, acting as a servant to the electing council, walked into their meeting room carrying an urn, then stumbled down the stairs. When the urn did not break, the bishops saw in this a miracle and a sign for them to elect him. The bishops hastened to consecrate this priest, who became Anba Zacharias (1004 - 1032), before the merchant arrived from Cairo with the caliphal decree. (Bulletin of St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society 6, 1999-2000)
Youth from St Maryâ€™s Church Page 5
Fr Daowd Lami and a number of the priests from Sydney visiting the monastery
St Khail the 46th Patriarch of Alexandria On this day of the year 483 A.M. (March 12th, 767 A.D.) the holy father Anba Khail (Mikhail), the forty six Pope of the See Of St. Mark, departed. This father was a monk in the monastery of St. Macarius and he was knowledgeable and ascetic. When Pope Theodorus the forty fifth Patriarch, his predecessor, departed the bishops of Lower Egypt (Delta) and the priests of Alexandria gathered in the church of Anba Shenouda in Cairo. A Dispute arose among them about who was fit, and finally they called Anba Mousa, Bishop of Ouseem, and Anba Petros, Bishop of Mariout. When they arrived, Anba Mousa found the priests of Alexandria obstinate, he rebuked them for that, and dismissed them that night so their minds and souls might calm down. When they met the next day he mentioned to them the name of the priest Khail the monk in the monastery of St. Macarius. They unanimously agreed to his choice and obtained a decree from the Governor of Egypt to the elders of the wilderness of Sheahat (Wadi ElNatroun) to bring him from the monastery. On their way, when they arrived to Geza they found father Khail coming along with some elders to fulfill a certain task connected with the monastery. They seized him, bound him, and took him to Alexandria where they ordained him Patriarch on the 17th. of Tute, year 460 A.M. (September 14th., year 743 A.D.). (From the Synaxarium) Page 6
St. Demetrius the 12th Patriarch of Alexandris The angel of the Lord appeared to St. Julian, the Eleventh Pope, before his departure and said: "You are going to the Lord Christ, the one who will bring you tomorrow a cluster of grapes, is the one fit to be a Patriarch after you." On the morrow, this saint came with a cluster of grapes, Abba Julian held him and told the people: "This is your Patriarch after me," and told them what the angel told him. After the departure of Abba Julian they took him and ordained him Patriarch on the 9th. of Baramhat (March 4th., 188 A.D.) (From the Synaxarium)
A Group of Deacons from St Sidhom Bishay Church after being ordained deacons
St. Macarius, 69th Patriarch of Alexandria When Abba Mikhail, the sixty-eighth, Pope departed and the papal throne became vacant, a group of bishops and priests went to the wilderness of Scete. They assembled in the church with the elders of Scete. They remained there for many days, searching and scouting for who would be best for this position. Finally they unanimously agreed to choose this father for what was known of his good character and excellent attributes. They took him and bound him against his will, and he cried out and begged them with excuses to release him saying, "I am not fit to be raised to the dignity of the Papacy." They brought him bound to the city of Alexandria and ordained him Patriarch. (From the Synaxarium) Page 7
St. Peter the Fourth, 34th Patriarch of Alexandria On this day also, the holy father and fighter St. Peter the Fourth, 34th Pope of Alexandria, departed. His predecessor Pope Theodosius was exiled by the orders of Emperor Vespasian because he did not agree with him on the resolutions of the Council of Chalcedon. When the Pope departed in exile, the Emperor did not permit the ordination of a new Patriarch. The lay leaders of the city of Alexandria went to its governor, who was an honorable and forthright man, and expressed to him their grief because of the vacancy of the Patriarchal chair. He advised them to go to the monastery of El-Zogag as if they were going to pray, there they could then ordain the patriarch of their choice. They rejoiced at this counsel. The bishops took Abba Peter to the monastery of El-Zogag and ordained him Patriarch on the first of Mesra, 283 A.M. (July 25th, 567 A.D.). (From the Synaxarium)
St Yoannis the 19th, 113th Patriarch of Alexandria When the blessed Pope Kyrillos the fifth, departed, on the first of Misra, 1643 A.M. (August 7th, 1927 A.D.) the Holy Synod convened on the fourth of Misra. They unanimously agreed to chose Met Yoannis as Acting Pope to run the affairs of the church until ordaining a patriarch. As a result of that, the Holy Synod had received many nominations from the parishes approving that choice. He performed his duties as Acting Patriarch for one year, four months, and ten days. During this period he administered the affairs of the See of St. Mark very well, during which also the Holy Synod, with Anba Yoannis presiding, issued a canon to regulate the affairs of the monasteries and the monks. He organized a committee to oversee the church properties and those of the monasteries and to review their accounts. From what everyone knew of his purity, virtuous life, good character, asceticism, and piety, they all unanimously agreed to chose him a patriarch with nominations from the bishops, priests and lay leaders. He was enthroned a patriarch on Sunday the seventh of Kiahk 1645 A.M. (December 16th, 1928 A.D.) (From the Synaxarium)
The selection of a new patriarch is an important and vital aspect of the Orthodox Church. The patriarch of the church is always looked at as...
Published on May 31, 2012
The selection of a new patriarch is an important and vital aspect of the Orthodox Church. The patriarch of the church is always looked at as...