Around 2,000 Orthodox worshippers gathered for a three-hour-long ceremony for the Greek Orthodox Church’s new Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa. Theodore II, who was enthroned in the coastal city of Alexandria in northern Egypt, succeeds Petros VII, who died last month in a helicopter crash.
The nave and galleries of the Al-Bishara Church in Alexandria’s central Raml neighborhood were packed with Orthodox worshippers, AFP reported, while hundreds others watched the ceremony on a large screen set up outside the church for the occasion.
Greek President Costis Stefanopoulos, Christian Coptic Pope Shenuda III, Alexandria Governor Abdul Salam al-Mahgub, as well as Vatican representatives, also attended the ceremony during which Theodore II, who also has the title of pope, was crowned and received the patriarchal crosier.
During his lengthy speech regarding his new position, Theodore II was often interrupted by cheers from the boisterous congregation to which the patriarch responded by waving at the crowd.
As the 116th Patriarch of Alexandria, Theodore II, will be the spiritual leader of the estimated 300,000 Greek Orthodox in Africa. Although his church followers are few in number on the continent, it is one of the world's oldest Christian congregations, considered second in the ancient ranking of the Orthodox churches and able to trace its roots to the apostle Mark.
Theodore II was chosen for the position on October 9, after the previous Patriarch, Petros VII, was killed Sept. 11 with 16 other people in a Greek army helicopter crash off Mount Athos in northeastern Greece. Theodore II is now the second most senior figure in the Orthodox hierarchy after Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople (Istanbul).