Coptic patriarch passes away

The patriarch of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, has passed away after battling liver and lung problems for several years.

Church sources said the health condition of the Coptic patriarch deteriorated on Saturday morning after he suffered a severe heart attack. 

The pope's medical team tried to revive him but did not succeed, and the spiritual leader died at the age of 89, Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported. 

The Coptic Orthodox Church announced a state of mourning over the pope's death. It said the funeral prayer would be held on Tuesday at the papal headquarters in the Abbassiya district of Cairo. 

Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayib, the grand imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, said, "Egypt has lost one of its rare men at a sensitive moment when it most needs the wisest of its wise -- their expertise and their purity of minds." 

"He held the question of al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Palestinian problem in his [conscience]," Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayib said.

Mohamed Mursi, the chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said Pope Shenouda made a long journey of service during the nation's history. 

"The Freedom and Justice Party sends its deepest condolences to the Egyptian people and our Christian brothers over the death of Pope Shenouda III," he said in a statement. 

A Vatican spokesman said Pope Benedict was immediately informed of Shenouda's death and offered prayers for him. 

"The Catholic Church joins Christians in their pain and prayer over the death... of their spiritual leader," he said. 

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