Vatican City/Cairo, 21 January 2009 (KAP/KI) - Egyptian Cardinal and former Coptic Catholic Patriarch (1986-2006) Stéphanos II Ghattas, C.M., died Tuesday January 20, 2009, in Cairo, four days after his 89th birthday. He governed his Church, which is in full communion with Rome, from June 9, 1986, to March 30, 2006. Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) created him a Cardinal in 2001. Following his death the College of Cardinal counts 189 members, of whom 116 are under eighty and have the right to vote in a papal conclave.
Andraos Ghattas was born on January 16, 1920, in Cheikh Zein-el-Dine near Tahta, currently in the Eparchy of Sohag in Egypt. He entered the junior seminary in Cairo in August 1929 and continued his studies at the Jesuit College of the Holy Family, graduating in June 1938. The same year he entered the College of Propaganda Fide in Rome, and in 1944 he earned licenciates in philosophy and theology.
He was ordained Priest on March 25, 1944, in Rome. Han ble presteviet den 25. mars 1944 i Roma. On his return to Egypt, he was appointed Professor of Philosophy and Dogmatic Theology at the Major Seminary of Tahta, then of Tanta. In 1952 he entered the Congregation of the Mission (Lazarists/Vincentians) and completed his noviciate in Paris. After six years of missionary work in Lebanon he was appointed bursar and then superior of the Lazarist community in Alexandria in Egypt.
On May 8, 1967, he was elected Bishop of Thebes-Luxor by the Coptic Catholic Synod. He was ordained Bishop on June 9, 1967, in the Lazarist Church in Alexandria by Cardinal Stéphanos I Sidarouss, C.M., Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, and was enthroned in the Cathedral of Tahta on June 16. On February 24, 1984, he was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Patriarchate during the illness of Patriarch Stéphanos I Sidarouss. Following the resignation of His Beatitude Stéphanos I Sidarouss, the Coptic Catholic Synod convened at the Patriarchal Residence at Koubbeh, and on June 9, 1986, Bishop Andraos Ghattas was unanimously elected the new Patriarch of Alexandria, taking the name of Stephanos II in honour of his predecessor and as a sign of continuity. He received ecclesiastical communion from Pope John Paul II on June 23, 1986. He traveled several times to Canada, Australia and the United States, where he founded the first Coptic Catholic parish.
On February 21, 2001, he was created a Cardinal Bishop by Pope John Paul II. He took part in the funeral of Pope John Paul II on April 8, 2005. On March 30, 2006, at the age of 86, he resigned. The Coptic Catholic Synod of Bishops elected as his successor the current Patriarch Antonios I Naguib.
May his memory be eternal!