Sorrounded by so many cold and unwelcoming faces, I feel like I am embraced by angelic warmth whenever I see the face of H.H Pope Shenouda. He will be missed greatly. A tough challenge for the one who replaces his chair. Who are the potential candidates?
Some of the candidates I've heard:
His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta:
He was also considered the right hand of the Pope, and by some people even as the Pope himself. He has also been in the front lines of theological dialogues and an advocate to unity with the Eastern Orthodox. Politically (or theologically) however he is controversial with Muslims and other Christians, Orthodox or non-Orthodx, and even within the Synod. He is also a diocesan Metropolitan, which is an uncomfortable notion in accordance with ancient church tradition, although it has one precedent before with Pope Yousab who was Metropolitan of Girga.
His Grace Bishop Youannis, General Bishop and Papal Secretary:
He is beloved by many, especially the youth, and is known for his love of Coptic hymns, particularly Midnight tasbeha. He is however considered by some as too young, by others as unqualified due to his personality and lack of any real leadership, and yet by others as borderline heretical due to his semi-charismatic (Protestant-like) character. He received "street cred" when supporters of his spread a story around about a dream he had where the Theotokos implied he would be the next Pope.
His Grace Bishop Rafael, General Bishop:
He is quite low-key, but well respected and considered as a logical successor. He seems to have an appeal to many as the "second Shenouda" for his frequent lectures and writings. He is well educated in theology and he also is known not only for his knowledge of Coptic hymns, but the theological teaching of the hymns and rites. I have not heard anything negative about him. He also has "street cred" when a story about him spread around that the late His Holiness Pope Kyrillos did a "metanya" (prostration) to him when he was only a monk. When the Pope was approached (he was known for his miracles and knowing the future) as to why he did this, he replied that he did a prostration to the Pope of Alexandria.
His Grace Bishop Moussa, General Bishop of Youth:
If His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy is considered from a political standpoint illogical to be the next Pope, His Grace Bishop Moussa would be the logical choice. He is very loveable and certainly very beloved by practically anyone. He has never had any problems with anyone within the Synod, not even with His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy or with those against him. He is also loved by non-Orthodox and Muslims. Whenever disasters occurred, he was the face of comfort and reassurance for both Copts and Muslims alike. The only negative I've heard is age, but many argued that age shouldn't be an issue, since in these turbulent times, he would be the most logical choice.
Notice that the candidates are all bishops, and mostly general or non-diocesan bishops, which seems to be the expected trend as of now, considered that the last 3 out of 4 Popes were bishops (and the only ones in Coptic history), which leads to the endless debate of the validity of choices for Pope as well as the debate of the validity of non-diocesan bishops. As of now I have not heard of any priests or deacons in consideration for the position.