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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Coptic Pope

The Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Pope Shenouda III, died March 17, 2012.

His fuller title is, apparently,

Pope and Lord Archbishop of the Great City of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Orthodox and Apostolic Throne of St Mark the Evangelist and Holy Apostle; Father of Fathers; Shepherd of Shepherds; Hierarch of all Hierarchs; Pillar and Defender of the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church and of the Orthodox faith; Dean of the Great Catechetical School of Alexadria; Ecumenical Judge of the Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church; Thirteenth among the Apostles.
The Coptics have 7-13 million followers, and are, with the Greek Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, one of the major catholic churches; but there are other catholic churches.

I don't know much--basically nothing, in fact--about non-Roman Catholic churches, so if you don't mind educating me in public, please pour on the comments. I'm not even sure that I've used "Catholic" and "catholic" (capital and non-capital c's) correctly--or the word "church" correctly. I think that the Coptics and the Greek Orthodox may have started naming Popes earlier than what became the Roman Catholic church--but again, I'm not sure.

"Pope", incidentally, stems from words meaning "Father" (think "poppa").

I'm not sure how true this is, but the site that clued me into the Pope's death, said that when choosing a successor, "the final choice is made by a boy who is led blindfold to the altar and invited to pull one of the names out of a hat."

As we all know that the Pope wears a funny hat, I hope the young fellow can keep a straight face and not think about bears in the woods...

10 comments:

  1. That title sure is a mouthful, almost a parody! And that choice of naming a successor....a blindfolded kid drawing names from a hat? Interesting. These succession rites would make for a good post. The white smoke/black smoke thing after the Cardinals elect a new Pope always struck me as rather poetic and beautiful.

    Also, I think the Orthodox have Patriarchs, not Popes, but I guess the name means more or less the same thing. Also, I think each country has its own Patriarch. I'm not sure if they all sort of "answer to" the Greek Patriarch or not. I think he has some sort of reverence as a kind of Patriarch of Patriarchs (not sure though) but I'm not sure how far his actual authority extends. Orthodoxy is a bit of an unknown for me, obviously!

    I know both Orthodox and Catholic churches look askance at the Copts, but their church and its rites are at least as old, if not older. My reading "A History of Christianity"doesn't seemed to have done me much good, sadly. Too much to digest. Something I will have to refer back to again and again after the initial reading. I highly recommend this book, btw. It's almost frightening in its scope....

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  2. I love the title of this post, btw, kind of like, "Man playing ukelele" or "Man dancing". :)

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  3. Well, I thought about naming the post "Pope and Lord Archbishop of the Great City of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Orthodox and Apostolic Throne of St Mark the Evangelist and Holy Apostle; Father of Fathers; Shepherd of Shepherds; Hierarch of all Hierarchs; Pillar and Defender of the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church and of the Orthodox faith; Dean of the Great Catechetical School of Alexadria; Ecumenical Judge of the Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church; Thirteenth among the Apostles."

    But it didn't have quite the same ring to it.

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  4. Thirteenth among the Apostles. Interesting title. Paul called himself that.

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  5. Found your blog via Loren Coleman's Twilight Language.

    Regarding the relationship between Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox:

    Oriental Orthodox are those churches that are Non-Chalcedonian; that is, they reject the decisions of the 4th Ecumencial Council held in Chalcedon in 451 AD which held that Christ is in two natures, both God and man. Oriental Orthodox Churches include the Egyptian Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Syriac and Malankara Churches.

    Eastern Orthodox Churches proclaim they are the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. Some major Patriarchs are located in Moscow, Antioch, Jerusalem, Istanbul (Constantinople), with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul being "First among equals." This title was formerly owned by the Bishop of Rome until the formal Great Schism of 1054, in which the churches of East and West broke communion. The main cause here was the Filioque clause inserted into the Nicene Crede by the Western Church. The First Vatican Council held in 1870 decreed the Pope to be infallible, which deepened the rift between East and West.

    This is an extremely brief summary. The theological differences between East and West include many other things, such as celibacy; of which the Orthodox will ordain married men as priests where the Roman Church will not. Monasticism thrives in the Orthodox Churches, where in the West it's deteriorating. Anyway, hope this helps answer the Original Poster's question.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the visit and taking the time to make such a useful comment. I'm sure the Gid will be pleased. I've been slogging thru "A History of Christianity" so this rings bells, but I would have been hard-pressed to make such a succint summary.

      Thanks again. Don't hesitate to comment again. Nice to know people are reading....

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    2. Thanks, Jason, for this thoughtful comment!

      I would love to see a tree diagram showing the branches of these faiths.

      I honestly hadn't even been aware of the 3 big "branches" you laid out (Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox), and a little googling started to lead me down a rabbit hole, quickly.

      Also, I didn't realize that the Pope was only declared infallible in 1870! I understand that it this was traditionally recognized before that, but to think that such a cornerstone of Roman Catholicism was only formalized so recently ... is startling.

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  6. The Gid,
    This is Wikipedia's version of the diagram:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations

    I've seen a better one elsewhere but can't find the link right now. Wiki's at least has the years of Chalcedon and Ephesus (which I forgot about). You will see that the Protestant branches are broken off of Roman Catholicism. It also shows the "Uniate" Church branch, aka "Byzantine Catholic" or "Greek Catholic"; of which there's a whole lot of drama between the Orthodox and Roman Churches, especially in Eastern Europe.

    The 1870 declaration of Papal Infallibility was controversial even at the time it was "voted" upon. Many of the cardinals present were uneasy about it, saying that any and all contra positions were squelched immediately. I was surprised as well at finding that out.

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  7. That list is insanely long! What a wild diversity and all call themselves Christians.

    A diagram of Islam for a comparison. Much less diverse, but moreso than I expected for some reason.

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  8. Those are both interesting! Appreciate the links. If either of you ever stumble across a good documentary on the topic, please post a link here!

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