Ene 232009

Stephanos II Ghattas

Cardinal Andra Ghattas, C.M., was born in Sheik Zein-el-Dine, in the Eparchy of Sohag Copts (Egypt) on January 16, 1920. He entered the minor seminary in Cairo in August 1929 and took classic studies at the College of the Holy Family run by Jesuits. In September 1938 he was sent to the Pontifical Academy of Propaganda Fidei in Rome, where he earned a doctorate in philosophy and theology. He was ordained priest in Rome on March 25, 1944.

He began his ministry as a professor of dogmatic theology and philosophy in the major seminary of Tantah, Egypt. On October 2, 1952 he entered the Congregation of the Mission (Community of Priests of the Mission of St Vincent de Paul) in Paris, where he completed the Internal Seminary. After holding various ministries in Lebanon for six years, he was appointed treasurer and then the superior of his community in Alexandria.

The Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church elected him Bishop of Luxor, Thebes of the Copts, Egypt, on May 8, 1967. He received episcopal ordination on June 9, 1967 and remained in the office until February 24, 1984 when he was appointed apostolic administrator of the Patriarchate replacing, because of weak health, his confrere, SB Stéphanos I Sidarous, C.M., patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts. When he submitted his resignation, the Synod of the Coptic Church unanimously elected Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts on June 9, 1986. John Paul II awarded him the «Ecclesiastica Communio» on 23rd of the same month. Then he changed his name of Andra by Stephanos II, as a gesture of affection to his predecessor.

As Patriarch he governed the Eparchy of Alexandria of the Copts. He was President of the Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church and the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Egypt and in the Roman Curia, a member of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

In February 2000, he welcomed the Holy Father John Paul II during his Jubilee pilgrimage to Mount Sinai. Pope John Paul II named him cardinal. He, and 37 other nominees, received his cardinal’s hat on February 21, 2001. At the solemn funeral of Pope John Paul II he is seen as a first dignity in the liturgical celebration, incense the body of the Pope in the final responsibility.

The Synod of Bishops of the Coptic Catholic Church, at the meeting in Cairo on March 27 30, 2006, has accepted his resignation on grounds of age and health, in accordance with canon 126 §2 of the Code of Canon Law for Eastern Churches, after consulting the Supreme Pontiff.

Since then he lived in the Saint Stephen Residence for Priests, in Cairo. He died in the Italian hospital in Cairo, on January 20, 2009 in the 89th year of age and 56th of vocation in the Congregation of the Mission.

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