“We hope that the new pope will open the churches to Muslim children so they can play with the Christian children. While the children of the church have to get out of the church boundaries and reach to their Muslim counterparts so we can develop a unified national fabric,” said property billionaire Samih Sawiris.
His call came as Coptic Christians voted Monday to elect a new leader to succeed Pope Shenuda III, who passed away in March leaving behind a community anxious about its status under an Islamist-led government.
The death of Shenuda, who headed the church for four decades, set in motion the process to elect a new patriarch to lead the community through the post-revolution era in Egypt, which is marked by increased sectarian tension.
“The pope should seek with all the spirituality he owns to reunite Christians between themselves as well as reunite Egyptian Christians and Muslim,” Sawiris said, according to the daily newspaper al-Masrawy.
“The pope has a spiritual effect on Christians but he should not have a political impact on them,” Sawiris added, supporting his statement, with word of the bible “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”
Three finalists in the race for Egypt’s Coptic Christian leadership have emerged after 90 percent of the 2,406 electors selected among archbishops and bishops casted their votes early on Monday.
The finalists were Bishop Rafael, 54, Father Rafael Ava Mina, 70, and Father Pachomious al-Suriani, 49, according to Ahram Online.