As Pope Shenouda III, the leader of Egypt's Coptic Church who passed away on Saturday, is laid to rest speculation has begun on his successor. Whoever that person may be, we can say with some authority that he will certainly be facing historic challenges for Egypt's Coptics. One other thing we can say with certainty is that he will be handpicked by a child. That's right, in selecting their leader Coptics have established a unique custom, perhaps one the Roman Church might want to consider when it faces it's next inevitable transition. Cairo's Al-Aharm weekly explains it all for us:
The election of the next pope of the Coptic Church, the 118th since the Church was founded by St Mark the Evangelist at the beginning of the Christian era, will be held at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo and will be chaired by the caretaker pope Bakhomious. The process will begin at 9am and last until 5pm and will be attended by a representative from the Ministry of Interior.
There is no quorum for the election, and once the votes have been counted the names of the three top candidates will be announced. The Sunday following the elections, a procedure will be held at St Mark's Church in Cairo to choose the next pope from among the three top candidates. Their names will be placed on the altar, and after mass a blindfolded child will pick one of the names. The name of the person picked will become the next pope of the Coptic Church.
Now that's what I call lay involvement in church leadership. I don't even trust my kids to pick their breakfast cereal. Read more on the church's history here.