He joined the Syrian Monastery in the Nitrian Desert, where he served as abbot prior to his elevation to Pope. The General Congregation Council (Elmagles Elmelly Ela"am) elected him Pope, with seat in the Saint Mark"s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Azbakeya in Cairo throughout his papacy. The secretary of the Council was Boutros pasha Ghali بطرس غالي, later Prime Minister of Egypt.
Notable men of the Coptic Church during his papacy included saint Anba Abraam, Bishop of Fayoum, and Habib Girgis.
In 1881 the Ethiopian Emperor Yohannes IV asked Pope Cyril V to ordain a metropolitan and three Bishops for the Ethiopian Empire. Cyril chose the four monks who had left El-Muharraq Monastery with Anba Abraam: Abouna Petros, Abouna Marqos, Abouna Matewos and Abouna Luqas.
When news of his death reached Ethiopia, Empress Zewditu and Ras Tafari ordered requiem masses to be said throughout Ethiopia, and that government offices be closed for three days.