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Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Page: 3655

Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (19:36): I rise also to extend my condolences to the Coptic community and to add my comments to this condolence motion noting the passing of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. I wish to pay my respects on the passing of this spiritual leader, a man who was admired and respected by many. This long-time leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church sadly passed away on Saturday, 17 March at the age of 88. According to the records, he was the 117th patriarch of Alexandria. He ruled for over 41 years, presiding over a worldwide expansion of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

He was born Nazeer Gayed on 3 August 1923 in Egypt, the youngest of eight children. Commentators say that by the age of 16 he was extremely active in his church, serving as a Sunday school teacher and attending classes at the Coptic theological seminary. By 1954 Gayed became a monk, taking the name Father el-Syriani, Anthony the Syrian, and dedicating his life to meditation and prayer. In 1971 he was elected to the papacy and took the name Shenouda. There are many reports indicating that during his leadership Pope Shenouda III was well known for his deep commitment to Christian community. Indeed, this was demonstrated in 1973 when he became the first Coptic Orthodox pope of Alexandria to meet the pope of Rome in over 1,500 years. Many news reports over the weekend claimed that he was known to his followers as 'Baba Shenouda' and they admired him for his charismatic leadership and sense of humour, so much so that many Copts apparently paid special tribute to him by hanging his portrait in their homes and businesses. According to many, they saw him as a protector of their community.

Accompanied by an entourage of 10 bishops, Pope Shenouda first visited Australia in late 1989. His Holiness met with the then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, the premiers of New South Wales and Victoria and senior government and civic leaders. In June 2002 Pope Shenouda ordained his grace Bishop Daniel for the diocese of Sydney, which included New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory is home to a large multicultural community and, according to census information, includes a large number of Copts.

Since his passing there are a number of media outlets reporting that many describe Pope Shenouda as a national figure and a symbol of Egyptian nationalism, who earned great respect from the Egyptian people. His passing is a great loss to the worldwide Coptic community and in particular those who have lost their patriarch in the Northern Territory. I extend my condolences to the Copts around the world mourning his loss.