Three Candidates Selected to Succeed Shenouda

More than seven months after the death of Pope Shenouda III, Coptic church leaders and laypeople voted today to narrow the list of candidates for the leadership of the Coptic Orthodox Church to three finalists. The vote comes near the end of a long process that involves the selection of electors and the gradual whittling of the list of nominees to three finalists. The candidates—Bishop Raphael, an aide to Shenouda; Bishop Tawadros, an assistant to the acting head of the church; and Father Raphael, a monk from Alexandria—seem to represent a shift in priorities away from close governmental ties. To complete the process, paper slips bearing the names of the finalists will be placed into a jar, and a blindfolded boy will pull one slip from the container at a church service next week, thereby selecting the new pope.