NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has extended his condolences to the State’s Coptic communities for the loss of their beloved and respected spiritual leader, Pope Shenouda III.
Mr O’Farrell paid tribute to the leadership of Pope Shenouda over the past four decades and in particular in his homeland of Egypt.
“My thoughts today are with the Coptic faithful here and overseas as they grieve the loss of their spiritual father,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“During his six visits to New South Wales he energised our Coptic communities with his wisdom, his wit and his spiritual guidance.
“He led his flock through numerous challenges and in his final years his ill health did not alter his resolve to advocate for the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.
“The Pope had a demonstrated commitment to church unity and served as head of both the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches.
“In a recent and historic display of unity earlier this year, the Pope was joined by Islamic and military leaders at a service for Orthodox Christmas in Cairo.
“That event said much about the leadership of Pope Shenouda III and his commitment to Egypt – bringing all leaders together was a powerful a demonstration of their support for the stability of their nation.
“On behalf of the NSW Government I extend my deepest condolences to the Coptic Orthodox faithful after the passing of Pope Shenouda, may God rest his soul,” Mr O’Farrell said.