Saturday, March 17th, at 5.00 PM, the Pope Shenouda III died. A great march of love for his great personality and his national role has started: massive crowds heading at St. Mark cathedral in Abbasia to pay the last respect for him, as well as the media talking about him for hours, mourning for his death and meditating his life.
Pope Shenouda, God repose his soul, was responsible for his people and his church for more than 40 years, which were not attributed of being easy and peaceful: Christians suffered from discrimination and organized persecution from some official foundations as well as the ultra-extremist Islamic groups, jihadist and non- jihadist, sponsored by ministry of interiors! They have terrified the Copts after these evil powers had come together. Thus, their churches were burned, their properties were attacked, some of them were slain, and others were shot or bombed after celebrating feast prayers in the church, aiming at humiliating them and keeping their morale really low.
However, let’s blot out all these sad events, because we are grieving, though the Pope is not dead as our Christian faith teaches us that death is a transition to a better life. Such sad events makes every rational Egyptian feels really bad, as the current governors are still dealing with the Coptic issues the same as Mubarak’s regime, never take an action against violating the rights of the Copts.
Most Egyptians felt their original feelings and regain their tolerance as soon as the news was spread about the death of the Pope. It was very clear as Muslims flocked to the papal residence with Christians to pay the last respect for the body of the pope and even offer their help if needed. Mass media gave the Pope great concern which never happened in such way upon the death of any politicians or religious leaders in Egypt. As the Pope has been throughout his life a sponsor for national unity, he did the same after he died!
His death spread tolerance and love between Egyptians. Those who were considered his enemies, turned out to mourn for his death, appreciating his national and ecclesiastical role, as well as his wisdom that protected the church and the Copts from the extremists and those who are full of hatred and loathing, and prevented more blood from being shed which could have led to a civil war.
Great was the moment of laying the body of Pope Shenouda III in his resting place at St. Beshoy monastery in Wadil Natroun, according to the greatness of his holiness. Because the Egyptians loved him, especially the Copts, thousands of them marched in the streets shocked in pain, and proving to those who govern Egypt now that Copts are not so weak, especially when united with their patriot and pure fellow Muslims. They are a strong community that can make a difference in spite of the hard circumstances.
Here, I remember a statement of the Pope Shenouda after an attack on some Copts. He said, “God hears our silence, understands our suffering, talks and takes an action”. When Pope Shenouda died, he became silent, but God has talked and revealed the mutual love among Egyptians. This shows that even the death of the Pope has gathered the Egyptians and united them, same as his life.
A question remains: Can the authorities in Egypt use of this historical moment and unity to solve the sectarian hatred problem that Egypt has experienced for a long time? Only they can answer this question.