Coptic pope in landmark visit to Jerusalem

Pope Tawadros II said his trip was his 'human duty,' to offer his condolences after the death of the archbishop

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Pope Tawadros II, the first head of Egypt’s Coptic church to travel to Jerusalem in decades, presided Saturday at the funeral of Jerusalem Archbishop Abraham.

Israel and Egypt fought four wars from the Jewish state’s foundation in 1948 but signed a peace treaty in 1979.

Tawadros’ predecessor, Shenuda III, who headed the church for nearly four decades, prohibited the faithful from travelling to Israeli-controlled Jerusalem.

When Tawadros arrived Thursday, he made a point of stressing that he was not on a visit, and did not even participate in the funeral cortege.

He said his trip was his “human duty”, so that he could “offer his condolences” after the death of the archbishop on Wednesday.

The cortege marched from the Old City’s Jaffa Gate to the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for prayers, before proceeding to an adjacent Coptic church for the funeral itself.

The burial was inside the precinct of that church.

The service was attended by representatives of different Christian communities in the Holy City, as well as by Israeli and Palestinian officials.

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