CAIRO — A blindfolded child reached into a crystal chalice and pulled out a slip of paper – and Egypt's Coptic Christians had a new pope.

The colorful but solemn ceremony at the Cairo cathedral of the troubled minority reflected none of the tensions outside. It was the end of a complicated process that began when the church's charismatic leader for four decades, Pope Shenouda III, died in March at the age of 88.

His main task had been to maneuver his flock through the obstacles facing a minority of 10 percent in a predominantly Muslim nation. For years, followers complained of systematic discrimination.

A nominations committee narrowed the field of Shenouda's possible successors to five, and a vote by 2,400 church leaders chose three of them.

That set up the final act.

At the Coptic Cathedral, there was a moment of silence. Then a boy, himself chosen by lottery, his face covered by a dark blue cloth decorated with religious images, was led to the chalice. Copts believe that his hand would be guided by God. He reached into the vessel and pulled out the name of Bishop Tawadros, who will be the next spiritual leader of the Copts.

On Nov. 18 he will be ordained as Pope Tawadros II, the 118th pope of the ancient Coptic Orthodox Church.

His challenges will be even more daunting than those that faced Shenouda.

Over the past year, Islamists have risen to power in Egypt, and Copts charge that discrimination, persecution and physical attacks by Islamic extremists have increased.

The new pope will have to walk the fine line of representing his people's concerns to the government without becoming a tool of the regime on the one hand or alienating Egypt's rulers on the other, and all the while maintaining the respect of his followers.

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  • A blindfolded boy draws the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice next to acting Coptic Pope Pachomios, center, during the papal election ceremony at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church chose a new pope in an elaborate Sunday ceremony meant to invoke the will of God, in which a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice. Bishop Tawadros will be ordained Nov. 18 as Pope Tawadros II, the spiritual leader of a community that increasingly fears for its future amid the rise of Islamists to power in the wake of the 2011 ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • A blindfolded boy waits to draw the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice while acting Coptic Pope Pachomios mixes the balls with the candidates names during the papal election ceremony at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church chose a new pope in an elaborate Sunday ceremony meant to invoke the will of God, in which a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice. Bishop Tawadros will be ordained Nov. 18 as Pope Tawadros II, the spiritual leader of a community that increasingly fears for its future amid the rise of Islamists to power in the wake of the 2011 ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Acting Coptic Pope Pachomios, center, displays the name of 60-year-old Bishop Tawadros, soon to be Pope Tawadros II, during the papal election ceremony at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church chose a new pope in an elaborate Sunday ceremony meant to invoke the will of God, in which a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Acting Coptic Pope Pachomios, center, displays the name of 60-year-old Bishop Tawadros, soon to be Pope Tawadros II, during the papal election ceremony at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church chose a new pope in an elaborate Sunday ceremony meant to invoke the will of God, in which a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Bishop Tawadros

    Bishop Tawadros, 60, soon to be Pope Tawadros II greets well-wishers, not shown, after being named the 118th Coptic Pope in the Wadi Natrun Monastery complex northwest of Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church named a new pope on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 to spiritually guide the community through a time when many fear for their future with the rise of Islamists to power and deterioration in police powers after last year's uprising. (AP Photo/Roger Anis, El Shorouk Newspaper) EGYPT OUT

  • Egyptian Copts react following the announcement of the name of Bishop Tawadros, soon to be Pope Tawadros II, during the papal election ceremony at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church chose a new pope in an elaborate Sunday ceremony meant to invoke the will of God, in which a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice. Bishop Tawadros will be ordained Nov. 18, 2012 becoming the spiritual leader of a community that increasingly fears for its future amid the rise of Islamists to power in the wake of the 2011 ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. (AP Photo/Roger Anis)

  • Coptic Christians Have New Pope

    A poster with a picture of 60-year-old Bishop Tawadros, soon to be Pope Tawadros II, is raised on the wall behind clergymen after the announcement of his selection during the papal election ceremony at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church chose a new pope in an elaborate Sunday ceremony meant to invoke the will of God, in which a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice. Bishop Tawadros will be ordained Nov. 18 as Pope Tawadros II, the spiritual leader of a community that increasingly fears for its future amid the rise of Islamists to power in the wake of the 2011 ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Bishop Tawadros

    In this Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 photo, Bishop Tawadros speaks with reporters in Cairo, Egypt. Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church named a new pope on Sunday, chosen in an elaborate ceremony where a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice. Bishop Tawadros will be ordained Nov. 18 as Pope Tawadros II. He will be the spiritual leader of a community that increasingly fears for its future amid the rise of Islamists to power in the aftermath of last year's uprising. (AP Photo/Sami Wahib)

  • Egyptian Copts react following the announcement of the name of Bishop Tawadros, soon to be Pope Tawadros II, during the papal election ceremony at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church chose a new pope in an elaborate Sunday ceremony meant to invoke the will of God, in which a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice. Bishop Tawadros will be ordained Nov. 18 as Pope Tawadros II, the spiritual leader of a community that increasingly fears for its future amid the rise of Islamists to power in the wake of the 2011 ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Pope Pachomios

    The congregation watches Acting Coptic Pope Pachomios, center, displays the name of 60-year-old Bishop Tawadros, soon to be Pope Tawadros II, during the papal election ceremony at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012. Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian church named a new pope on Sunday, chosen in an elaborate ceremony where a blindfolded boy drew the name of the next patriarch from a crystal chalice. Bishop Tawadros will be ordained Nov. 18 as the spiritual leader of a community that increasingly fears for its future amid the rise of Islamists to power in the aftermath of last year's uprising. (AP Photo/Sami Wahib)