Christians have gathered to pay their final respects to Pope Shenouda III as he sat on his thrown for the last time.The church leader spent four decades in Egypt’s Orthodox Church trying to soothe sectarian tensions between Christians and the majority Muslim nation.However, there has been mounting friction between the two since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year. Shenouda, who died on Saturday aged 88, often called for harmony and regularly met Muslim leaders to ease tensions.Christians, who comprise of about a tenth of Egypt’s 80 million people, have long complained of discrimination and in the past year stepped up protests, which included calls for new rules that would make it as easy to build a church as a mosque. Shenouda had served as the 117th Pope of Alexandria since November 1971, leading the Orthodox community who make up most of Egypt’s Christians. His funeral will be held on Tuesday, according to Egyptian state media. Thousands of Christians queued in Cairo’s Abbasiya district overnight and on Sunday morning at the cathedral where Shenouda’s body was initially laid in a coffin.The body was later seated on a ceremonial throne wearing gold and red embroidered religious vestments, a golden mitre on his head and holding a gold-topped staff. Shenouda was popular among many of Egypt’s Christians even outside the Orthodox Church, as well as among many Muslims. But some activists said he should have pushed the state harder to secure more rights for Christians. He was hugely passionate about the North African country and was often heard saying: ‘Egypt is not a nation we live in, rather it is a nation that lives in us.’ The burial is expected to take place at the Wadi el Natrun monastery in the desert northwest of Cairo, where the late pope had requested he be buried. Shenouda was banished to Wadi el Natrun monastery in 1981 by then-President Anwar Sadat after he criticised the government’s handling of an Islamic insurgency in the 1970s and Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Under Mubarak’s rule, relations between the government and the Coptic church were generally smooth, with the pope portrayed in state media as a symbol of religious harmony, despite occasional outbreaks of sectarian violence. American President Barack Obama offered his condolences and Pope Benedict, leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, offered prayers after being informed of his death. ’We will remember Pope Shenouda III as a man of deep faith, a leader of a great faith, and an advocate for unity and reconciliation,’ said Mr Obama.Mr Obama also said Shenouda had been committed to national unity and was ‘a beloved leader of Egypt’s Coptic Christians and an advocate for tolerance and religious dialogue.’ Christians in Egypt have often complained it is far more difficult for them to build a church and have said they are often discriminated against. The head of Egypt’s ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, granted Christians working in state institutions three days mourning, state media reported. Bishop Bakhomious, head of the church of Bahaira, a district in the Nile Delta north of Cairo, will temporally hold the post of pope for two months until a new leader is elected. Egyptian media described the procedure for choosing a new pope as one based on a system of voting by board members of the church’s city councils. The councils vote on three preferred candidates, and the final choice is made when a name is picked out of a box by a young child, the media said.