Bishop Tawadros, 60, was named the new Coptic Christian pope in a ceremony in Cairo on November 4, 2012.
PHOTO: AFP/Getty Images
Bishop Tawadros, 60, was named the new Coptic Christian pope in a ceremony in Cairo on November 4, 2012.

Story highlights

A blindfolded boy chooses the name of the next pope

The new pope replaces a former leader who died in March

Attacks in recent years have targeted the Coptic Christian minority

(CNN) —  

Overcrowding inside a cathedral where Coptic Christians had gathered to pay last respects to their pope caused a stampede that left three people dead and more than 50 injured, a health official said.

Bishop Tawadros Theodorus II – the nation’s 118th Coptic Pope – replaces the former leader who died in March.

The death of Pope Shenouda III sparked anxiety in the embattled minority group in Egypt’s Muslim majority.

Thousands of people flooded into a Cairo Cathedral in March to bid farewell to the 88-year-old pope who led the nation’s Coptic Christians for about four decades.

Egypt’s Christian minority has been the target of attacks in recent years. The bombing of a major church in Alexandria in January 2011 killed 21 people and sparked worldwide condemnation.

Christians are a very small minority in Egypt, although the Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Christian church in the Middle East, according the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage, England.

The U.S. State Department estimates that Egypt is roughly 9% Coptic Christian, but the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which released a report on the global Christian population last year, says it is probably closer to 5%.

The leader of the Coptic Christian community since 1971, Shenouda was in poor health off and on for many years. He traveled to the United States to undergo medical tests last year.

In addition to millions of followers in Egypt, the Coptic church has adherents in Europe, Canada, the United States, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.