This morning Australians woke to the sad news that Pope Shenouda III, Patriarch of Coptic Orthodox Church, has died in Egypt overnight.
Pope Shenouda had served in religious life for sixty years. He was spiritual leader of his people for four decades.
On behalf of all Australians, I offer my condolences to the Coptic community in this very sad hour. We know the eight million Coptic Christians in Egypt – and millions more worldwide – have lost their patriarch in a most difficult time in their history.
I also know the Australian Coptic community looks to events in Egypt with great anxiety for their fellow faithful and the holy places.
I want them to know today that the Copts of Egypt are not without friends in the world, or in Australia.