Shenouda III

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Shenouda III, 1923–2012, pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church (see Copts), 1971–2012; successor of Cyril VI. Born Nazeer Gayed, he attended Cairo Univ. (B.A. 1947) and the Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary (grad. 1949), becoming a teacher. He entered the El Suryan monastery in 1954 and became a priest in 1958. From 1956 to 1962 he lived as a hermit in a cave near the monastery. In 1962 Pope Cyril VI named him bishop for Christian education and dean of the Coptic Seminary. Shenouda III succeeded Cyril VI as pope in 1971. As pope, he oversaw the growth of the Coptic Church abroad, including the establishment of Coptic monasteries outdside of Egypt, but he was also commited to ecumenism. In 1981 the Egyptian government banished him to a desert monastery and withdrew its recognition of him as Coptic pope after he publicly disapproved of President Sadat's normalization of relations between Egypt and Israel and criticized the government's response to militant Islamic groups. The measures were only fully reversed in 1985.