A council of Coptic Christians in Egypt is set to vote for a successor to Pope Shenouda III, who died in March.
Two bishops and three monks are short-listed to become the 118th head of the region’s largest Christian minority.
The council will pick three, writing their names on separate pieces of paper that will be placed in a box on the altar of St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo.
A blindfolded child will be asked to draw out one of the names on 4 November, thereby picking the new Pope.
The individual chosen will become the new Coptic Pope who will be enthroned in a ceremony on 18 November.
The five candidates are:
Fr Pachomios al-Syriani – a monk from the Paromeos Monastery in Wadi al-Natrun; currently lives in Italy; aged around 49
Bishop Raphael – an auxiliary bishop in Cairo; a former aide to the late Pope; a member of the Church’s Holy Synod, the Coptic Church’s highest authority; aged around 58
Fr Raphael Ava Mina: A monk at St Mina Monastery near Alexandria; aged around 60
Fr Seraphim al-Syriani: A monk from the Paromeos Monastery; currently lives in the US; aged around 53
Bishop Tawadros – an auxiliary bishop to acting head of the Coptic Church, Bishop Pachomios; member of the Holy Synod; aged around 60
The Coptic Church has about 16 million members worldwide, and Copts make up 10% of Egypt’s population of 80 million.
Pope Shenouda III died at the age of 88 on 17 March, reportedly after suffering cancer.
He had urged officials to do more to address Coptic concerns after numerous attacks on churches in recent years.
He had led the Church, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, for four decades.
His successor faces the task of reassuring the Coptic community during the Islamist resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, correspondents say.
Many younger Copts will be looking for a leader who can help redefine their community’s role in a rapidly changing post-Mubarak Egypt, they add.
Photo: Pope Shenouda III led Egypt’s Coptic Christian Church for four decades