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Pope praises Shenouda III, shares pain over death

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI has said the Catholic Church shares the pain of the Coptic Orthodox Church over the death of its patriarch, Pope Shenouda III.

Benedict sent a message of condolences Sunday following Shenouda’s death Saturday at age 88.

Shenouda led Egypt’s Christian minority for more than 40 years amid increasing tensions with Muslims. Benedict has called for greater protections for Egypt’s estimated 10 million Christians amid a surge of recent attacks, but his message Sunday steered clear of polemics and focused on conveying his prayers for God’s “faithful servant.”

Pope John Paul II met with Shenouda during his 2000 trip to Cairo and Pope Paul VI hosted Shenouda at the Vatican in 1973.

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