The head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church headed Thursday to Jerusalem to attend the funeral of the holy city’s archbishop, a move that breaks with a longtime ban maintained by the church on visiting the city before the end of Israeli occupation.
Tawadros is attending the funeral of Bishop Abraham, Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Near East who died on Wednesday. He is heading a delegation of eight senior church clerics. Tawadros will lead funeral ceremonies for the late archbishop on Saturday.
His visit is the first by a head of the Egyptian Church since 1967 as his predecessor, Pope Shenouda III, had maintained a ban on visiting the holy city while it is still under Israeli occupation. Shenouda had exhibited disapproval with pilgrimage trips by a number of Copts over the past years who defied the church ban.
Meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo earlier this month, Tawadros reportedly expressed a hope to visit Jerusalem once “diplomatic efforts lead to a drastic solution to the Palestinian issue.”
Egypt’s former Grand Islamic Mufti Ali Gomaa had also sparked an uproar when visiting the city in 2012.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm