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Published: Sunday, 3/18/2012

Coptic Orthodox leader dies in Egypt

Pope Shenouda III, 1923-2012


CAIRO -- Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church who led Egypt's Christian minority for 40 years during a time of increasing tensions with Muslims, died Saturday. He was 88.

His death occurred as the country's estimated 10 million Christians are feeling more vulnerable amid Islamic movements' rise to political power after the toppling a year ago of President Hosni Mubarak.

"Baba Shenouda," as he was known to his followers, headed one of the most ancient churches in the world.

The Coptic Church traces its founding to St. Mark, who is said to have brought Christianity to Egypt in the 1st Century.

He visited the Toledo area in 2002 for the consecration of St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Monclova Township.

Tens of thousands packed the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo on Saturday hoping to see his body.

An archbishop told the crowd that the funeral would be in three days, and in the meantime the body would be on display.

Pope Shenouda died in his cathedral residence. The state news agency MENA said he had liver and lung problems.

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