CYRIL III IBN LAQLAQ (?-1243)
A Patriarch (75th, 1235-1243), theologian. Da’ud ibn Laqlaq was a monk of the Fayyum who ran afoul of local clergy, his bishop, and Patriarch John VI (74th, 1189-1216) by championing the ancient practice of auricular confession to a father confessor, thus aligning himself with the disgraced Marqus ibn al-Qunbar against Church leaders such as Metropolitan Mikha’il of Damietta and Patriarch John VI himself. Upon John’s death, Da’ud became a candidate for the patriarchate, and, after a long struggle in which he outlasted, outmaneuvered, and outspent his opposition, was enthroned as Pope Cyril III in 1235.
Once patriarch, however, Cyril had to find the means to fulfill the pledge of 3,000 dinars by which he had guaranteed the support of the Ayyubid court. As patriarch of a church in which no episcopal consecrations had taken place for 19 years, there was ample opportunity for him to receive money in return for appointment to ecclesial office, ranging from a high of 200 dinars for consecrating a bishop to three dinars for ordaining a deacon. These simoniacal practices alarmed other Copts, who in synods held in 1238 and 1240 sought reform; Cyril shortly afterward retired to the Monastery of al-Sham‘ in Giza, where he died in 1243.
Whatever may have been Cyril’s administrative, pastoral, and diplomatic accomplishments during his relatively brief patriarchate, they have been overshadowed by the scandal of simony. Be that as it may, Cyril’s role in the history of Copto-Arabic literature should not be overlooked. As patriarch he put talent to work, employing, for example, the canonical skills of al-Safi ibn al-‘Assal, whom he also asked for a response to al-Ja‘fari’s Takhjil muharrifi l-Injil (Shaming the Corrupters of the Gospel).
Before becoming patriarch, the monk Da’ud (as he was then known) collaborated with Bulus al-Bushi and al-As‘ad ibn al-‘Assal in composing Kitab al-I‘tiraf (the Book of Confession), also known as The Book of the Master and the Disciple (22 chapters). This book justified the practice of confession to a spiritual “master” or priest; judging from its presence in at least 50 manuscripts (and a partial edition published in Cairo in 1985), it has been widely read and accepted.