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Associated Press
A blindfolded boy draws the name of the next pope from a crystal chalice next to acting Coptic Pope Pachomios, center, Sunday in Cairo.

Child’s hand selects Egyptian Copts’ pope

– A blindfolded child reached into a crystal chalice and pulled out a slip of paper – and Egypt’s Coptic Christians had a new pope.

The colorful but solemn ceremony at the Cairo cathedral of the troubled minority reflected none of the tensions outside. It was the end of a complicated process that began when the church’s charismatic leader for four decades, Pope Shenouda III, died in March at the age of 88.

His main task had been to maneuver his flock through the obstacles facing a minority of 10 percent in a predominantly Muslim nation. For years, followers complained of systematic discrimination.

A nominations committee narrowed the field of Shenouda’s possible successors to five, and a vote by 2,400 church leaders chose three of them.

That set up the final act.

At the Coptic Cathedral, there was a moment of silence.

Then a boy, himself chosen by lottery, his face covered by a dark blue cloth decorated with religious images, was led to the chalice. Copts believe that his hand would be guided by God. He reached into the vessel and pulled out the name of Bishop Tawadros, who will be the next spiritual leader of the Copts.

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