As mentioned before, the Holy Orders comprise three degrees, the bishop Dom, the priesthood, and the deaconship. The pope is a bishop, but being bishop of the capital and St. Mark’s Successor, he is given precedence. His precedence, however, is that of the elder brother. According to the earliest laws and regulations of the Coptic Church, the pope, as well as all members of the Holy Orders, are elected by those ever whom they will preside. The election of the deacons and the priests is naturally, restricted to their own parishes; that of the bishops to their own dioceses; while the pope is elected by general vote. Also, there is no transference or resignation within the ranks of the Holy Orders, the only open possibility is that a priest can become chief priest, and a deacon an archdeacon. This attainment, however, is within their own parish so that they remain serving their own people. As for the bishops, they remain as such for life. The relation of a bishop (or a priest) to his people is likened unto that of husband and wife. And since marriage in Christianity is monogamous and kept throughout life, it follows that clergymen must remain serving their own people throughout life. The reason why no bishop is transferred is that the Coptic Church maintains the Apostolic Tradition which appointed Matthias and Justus from the ranks of the believers, then prayed and gave forth their lots which resulted in the selection of Matthias (Acts I: 15 - 26). This casting of lots happened only at this selection, precedent to the Descent of the Holy Spirit. After they were filled with God’s Spirit, the Apostles relied on praying, discussing together then taking a decision. And because Matthias came from among the believers and not selected from among the disciples to take place among the Twelve, the Fathers of the Coptic Church followed their example. When the Successor of St. Mark goes unto his reward, bishops and lay leaders confer; they select from among the monks those they deem most) worthy of the august Chair. The number of candidates is not to be less than three nor more than eleven. At the appointed day and hour, the voters give their vote. He, who gets the highest number of votes is consecrated. This: was the general method, but there are few exceptions. The three popes (from 1927 - 1956) were bishops raised to the Papal Chair. But their successor, Abba Kyrillos VI (1 l'6th Pope) was a monk. His election come first by vote; from among the eleven selected, the names of the three who got the highest votes, were written on three slips of paper and put on the altar while the Liturgy was chanted. At the end, a boy of seven was asked to pick one of the three slips of paper; it bore the name of the hermit Mena who was duly consecrated by the name Kyrillos.
The ideal of non - transference is upheld by the Coptic Church on the. Following grounds:
Bishop Dom is an honor in itself conferred by the Christ, hence, every bishop is brother to the others regardless of any worldly grandeur. The scale of greatness set by the Christ for His disciples being that of Service: “If any ‘mail desire to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all”. (Mark IX: 35).
The Bishop is considered as “the husband” of his See, and “the Father” to his flock.
To guard against any possible rivalry or use of the bishopric's money for any purpose other than the good of the people.
For the security, stability and durability within the churches.
In Addition, the Coptic Church has maintained that no man, whatever spiritual height he has attained, is infallible; consequently, She decreed that the Holy Council of Bishops should be the highest authority. This Council confers amicably with the lay leaders, so that no man’s point of view will be the only means of governing the Church. When the Council convenes and discusses any question, the voice of the majority is put into effect, even if the Pope happens to be with the majority. The only prerogative accord to him, is such stands, is that should the number of the members attending the Council be even, and they divide into equal halves, the Pope’s vote is counted two. As for the lay leaders, they express their views frankly in any discussion. Then their role is that of rendering whatever service with which the Pope or any of the Bishops charge them.
In the bishoprics including that of the Pope there are always committees of laymen and laywomen for social service, ministering unto the sick and the aged, trying to find work for the unemployed, supervising arts and crafts centers and whatever service the Bishop demands. While in the parishes, each priest has his deacon and his lay assistants for the diverse projects run by the church. Thus, the laymen and the laywomen have their share in the Church life.
Under the guidance of Abba Kyrillos V (112th Pope) ,, the Theological Seminary was reopened. It was housed in a building next to a church bearing the name of the Blessed Virgin surrounded by a b: g garden. Nonetheless it was situated in one of the poorest suburbs of Cairo —« that of Mahmasha. Then, in February 1953, it was transferred to the building situated on what is now known as the Abba Roweiss Ground. A year later, “The Higher Institute for Coptic Studies” was inaugurated in a building standing on the Fame ground. The difference between the Seminary and the Institute lies in that the former is restricted to student for the priesthood, • and as such its syllabuses are highly specialized; while the latter is open for whomever desires to study and research info the Legacy of the Copts. The Seminary is divided into what might be termed two schools;
The day, which students enter after their secondary school Certificate (equals matriculation) ;
The evening, whose students are university graduates. An off - shoot of the Seminary is the Didymus School in which the Cantors are trained.
As for the Institute, it comprises ten sections, these are: music; Coptic Language; Transitional period from Ancient Egypt to Coptic Era; History of the Coptic Church (with reference to the General) ; African Studies; Art (including painting mosaics, glass - stain, sculptor and crafts) ; Law; Theology; Social Studies (with special emphasis on the Coptic community) ; Photography; then what are termed “assisting” studies, namely English, French and German, to “assist the • researchers in their readings.
There is, too, a Coptic Museum including a Library; it stands between two of the oldest churches: that of the Blessed Virgin known as “Al - Mo’allakah”, and that of Abu Serga both in Old Cairo. The Museum started by the Copts and placed among two of their most cherished churches.
In 1933, it became part of the National heritage under the administration of the Government.
Beside the Library adjoined to the Museum, there are two Papal Libraries: one in Alexandria and one in Cairo. While each monastery and each convent has its library. Needless to say that the Theological Seminary and the Institute, each, has its own library.
It should be added that at the entury to the Abba Roweiss Ground, to the right of the entrant, stands “La Societe de l' Archeologle Copte”, founded in 1932. It publishes books, holds seminars and lectures, and has a well sized library. It, also, succeeded in carrying out some excavations, unearthing the monastery of St. Phoebamon. From 1934 - 1952, it issued a yearly bulletin, since then, the bulletin appears ~ whenever possible. Its articles are in Arabic,. English, French, and German oftentimes, the original Coptic is put side by side with the translation. The Society has, moreover, published numerous - books.
But the activity for which the Coptic feel great elation is that of the Youth - The Sunday Schools, started since the papacy of Abba Kyrillos V and extends now from Alexandria to Aswan, including the villages. It has become known as “The Schools of Ecclesiasticol Education”.. They are held on Fridays after the Liturgy and in the afternoons, and on Sunday afternoons. The classes range from “the reception” class to the secondary school education. As for the university students, they have two kinds of meetings:
One strictly parochial where each group meets within its own church;
One entitled “the University families”. These latter are formed by student of one (or more) college: for example the students of the Agriculture College (Ain Shams University) group themselves in “St. Athansius Family”; on the other hand, the students of Commerce in both universities of Cairo and Ain Shams have bended themselves together to form “St. Paul’s Family ". There are more than fifty of these families in Cairo. They are all under the guidance of the Pope Abba Shenouda III. Each family meet once a week for a lecture or a discussion.
The latest offshoot, is the opening of “nurseries” for the children whose mothers work. These schools are usually in rooms adjoining the churches, or within the garden of a church which happens to have one. The supervisors are mostly volunteers working in collaboration with the priests and under, their guidance.
Another revived custom is the incessant on flow of these groups singly, together or with other groups to the monasteries and convents. The diverse Church seasons and commemorations are capitalized for such “pilgrimages^. For example, Lent is a most appropriate time for all those inclined to meditation, and the long hours of prayers upheld in these sanctified retreats - offer them great satisfaction. Alco, the week during which the commemoration of the martyrdom or death of a saint is a time for celebration: The Ritual invariably includes hymns of praise 'and processions overflowing with spiritual elation. There is, thus, an incessant contact between the desert dwellers and those living in the world. And, in all honesty, a day spent in oue of these sanctuaries is impossible to describe; it has to be experienced.