Religion: Freeing a Pope

An Egyptian's banishment ends

By the ancient calendar of Egypt's Coptic Church, this is the Christmas season--and President Hosni Mubarak, a Muslim, had a present last week for his Christian community. He released Pope Shenouda III, 61, from a three-year- long house arrest and allowed him to resume his duties as spiritual leader of the Copts, the largest Christian group (6 million) in any Arab nation.

One month before he was assassinated, in 1981, President Anwar Sadat ordered the detention of Shenouda, eight bishops and 22 parish priests, accusing them of fomenting unrest. Since then, Shenouda has been forced to live at the 4th century...

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