Late Cardinal Antonios Naguib Late Cardinal Antonios Naguib 

Pope expresses condolences upon death of Cardinal Naguib

Pope Francis sends a telegram conveying his condolences upon the death of Egyptian Cardinal Antonios Naguib, who died on Monday at the age of 87.

By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis has expressed his condolences upon learning of the death of Cardinal Antonios Naguib, Patriarch emeritus of the Coptic Catholic Church, who passed away on 28 March.

A leading figure of the 250,000-strong Catholic Coptic community, Cardinal Naguib died at 87 in the Italian hospital in Cairo, following a long illness.

In a telegram addressed to Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak of Alexandria, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the entire Patriarchal Church for its loss.

A good shepherd

Highlighting his “commitment in the field of development and social service” for the needy and suffering, the Holy Father said Cardinal Naguib was a perfect “example of a good shepherd” for his Church.

Pope Francis also prayed through the intercession of the Virgin Mary that the Lord may “welcome this faithful servant into the heavenly Jerusalem.”

Cardinal Naguib was born on 18 March 1935, in Samalout, Egypt. He studied at the Interritual Maadi Seminary in Cairo and then at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1960 after obtaining a degree in Theology and Sacred Scriptures, and contributed with other scholars to a new translation of the New Testament into modern standard Arabic.

Patriarch of Alexandria from 2006 to 2013

He was ordained Bishop of Minya in 1977 and elected Patriarch of Alexandria in 2006. During his seven years as Patriarch of Alexandria, he was also the president of the Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church and president of the assembly of the Catholic hierarchy of Egypt.

Cardinal since 2010

Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to the cardinalate in 2010 one month after he served as the recording Secretary of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

After suffering a stroke in 2011, he retired in January 2013 and in March that year participated in the Conclave that elected Pope Francis.

Strong advocate of ecumenical dialogue 

Cardinal Naquib was a strong advocate of ecumenical dialogue , especially with Orthodox Copts, who are the great majority of Egyptian Christians.

He was also concerned about rising Islamist radicalism threatening Christians in the country, especially after the Arab Spring uprising that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

He expressed these concerns in an interview to Vatican Radio in 2011. Commenting on "the events in Tahrir Square" in Cairo,  Cardinal Naguib said changes reclaimed by young Egyptians risked been wrecked if fundamentalism should have the upper hand in Egypt.

The Patriarch also highlighted the need to separate the political and religious spheres, saying that Egypt was at a crossroads between modern democracy, on the one hand, and Islamic fundamentalism, on the other.

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29 March 2022, 12:18