By Cam Lucadou-Wells
A crowd of 1500 followers packed a Hallam church to greet the spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church on 8 September.
At the service at St Mina and St Marina’s Church, Pope Tawardos II – one of just two sitting popes in the world – received the keys to the City of Casey from mayor Sam Aziz.
Cr Aziz, a member of the Coptic community, said it was believed to be the first key to any city in the world bestowed on the Pope.
It recognised the Pope’s “outstanding efforts in promoting love and peace between all people, and his wisdom in leading the Coptic Orthodox Church to spiritual revival and triumph”.
“It was an amazingly beautiful service and fitting that His Holiness received the keys to the City of Casey.
“It really demonstrates that Casey is very capable of operating on the international stage.”
There were mass cheering and clapping from the “delighted” flock, Father Abanoub Attalla later said.
His Holiness gave “peace” to parishioners, some who had lost their children and other family members to targeted violence in Egypt.
“It was a wonderful blessing. People were full of joy seeing him.”
Fr Attalla said the message from the ‘Pope of Hope’ was for parishioners not to worry about Egypt and the safety of their mother church in Egypt.
“Live the life of Christ, and forgive those who kill us.”
During the Pope’s tour of Australia, he has been feted by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Premier Daniel Andrews and Governor Linda Dessau.