His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Orthodox Church, sent a letter of condolences to the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which is summarized below. In addition, Archbishops Sebouh Sarkissian, Prelate of Tehran, and Nareg Alemezian represented His Holiness Aram I and the Catholicosate of Cilicia at the funeral of Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, on Tuesday 20 March 2012.
In his letter to the Holy Synod, Catholicos Aram I recalled that they had last met a few months ago during the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Pope’s enthronement.
He wrote that they had met for the first time in 1966, when the late Pope was director of the Christian Education Department of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Catholicos was a young deacon. Since then they continued their brotherly cooperation in the Middle East Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, and in the Bilateral Theological Dialogues with other Churches.
He then wrote, “Along with these ecumenical engagements, we formed together with the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Permanent Meeting of the Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Middle East. Our intention was to deepen our centuries-old relations as ancient churches, and face the challenges in the Middle East together, through our meetings as Heads, and the continuing work of the Standing Committee.”
Catholicos Aram I described the deceased Pope as:
1. A true monk and a spiritual person. Although constantly engaged in his duties as the Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Shenouda III continued his monastic life style of prayer, fasting and meditation.
2. Shenouda III was the true shepherd of his people. He dialogued with his people through Bible Studies and through his teaching of the Word of God.
3. For Shenouda III, teaching and preaching was the mission of the Coptic Church. He travelled to all the continents, established churches for his people and inspired them with the spirituality of their ancient church.
4. Shenouda III loved and wrote books. He published sermons and works on Biblical exegesis and the lives of the Early Church Fathers.
5. Finally, the late Pope Shenouda III was a strong believer in Church Unity. He always reminded Christians that because early church divisions began in the Middle East, Church Unity should also start in the Middle East.
The passing away of Shenouda III is a major loss not only for the Coptic Orthodox Church, but also for Christians in the Middle East and everywhere.
In the name of the Catholicosate of Cilicia, the members of the clergy and all the faithful, we send our condolences to the Members of the Holy Synod. We mourn with you the loss of this great Spiritual Leader and thank the Almighty for his life and service to the Church of Jesus Christ.
Catholicos of Cilicia