Well, a pope. It’s not Benedict XVI, but Pope Shenouda III, the head of the worldwide Coptic Church, or officially the 117th Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. He will be visiting the Netherlands from 15 to 17 October, for the consecration of churches in The Hague and Eindhoven, a general meeting in Haarlem, a courtesy visit to the ambassador of Egypt and the opening of a Coptic cultural centre in Amsterdam.
It is a busy itinerary for the 87-year-old pope, who has been at the helm of the Coptic Church since 1971. For the general meeting on 16 October, Pope Shenouda will have the use of the basilica of St. Bavo in Haarlem, cathedral of the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam. Bishop Jos Punt spontaneously offered use of the cathedral when the organisation of the meeting was looking for a suitable location.
The Netherlands has seven Coptic parishes under the direct responsibility of Pope Shenouda in Alexandria.