Pope Francis arrives in Egypt on historic visit

A man rides a bicycle past a billboard with an image of Pope Francis April 26 ahead of the pontiff's April 28-29 visit to Cairo. (CNS photo/Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters)

Catholic pontiff’s two-day visit is aimed at fostering peace between the Muslim and Christian-minority community.

28 Apr 2017 16:04 GMT

Pope Francis said violence cannot be committed in the name of God, in a speech at a Muslim-Christian conference in Egypt.
The 80-year-old touched down at Cairo airport on Friday before he was ushered in a car to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Francis is in Egypt on a 27-hour visit to push for dialogue with Muslims and support the country’s embattled Christian minority that has suffered a series of attacks.
“Peace alone … is holy and no act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of God, for it would profane his name,” the Catholic pontiff said.

Pope Francis stands next to Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar [Andreas Solaro/AFP]
Pope Francis stands next to Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar [Andreas Solaro/AFP]
He also warned against rising populism.
“Demagogic forms of populism are on the rise. These certainly do not help to consolidate peace and stability,” he told the conference, organised by al-Azhar, the world’s foremost Sunni Islamic centre of learning.
“It is essential that we spare no effort in eliminating situations of poverty and exploitation, where extremism more easily takes root, and in blocking the flow of money and weapons destined to those who provoke violence.”
Acts that do not promote peace are “a gift to the proponents of radicalism and violence”, the pope said.
Amid high security, the pontiff is meeting with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Imam of the government-run Al-Azhar mosque and an Islamic philosophy professor, before meeting with Sisi and Pope Tawadros II, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Church.
Egypt has been under a state of emergency since two bombings in Coptic churches earlier this month that killed 45 people.
All of the country’s churches have been placed under additional protection because of the risk of another assault timed to coincide with Francis being in the country.
The most recent attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, which has warned of further attacks against Egypt’s Coptic Christians and on the Vatican.
Armoured cars have been stationed in front of the presidential palace and security men have been posted every hundred yards along a 20km stretch between the airport and central Cairo.
The Pope is also going to meet Coptic Pope Tawadros II.
Egypt’s Copts, who make up about 10 percent of the country’s population of 92 million, are the Middle East’s largest Christian minority and one of the oldest.
The two men are due to walk together to the Coptic church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the heart of Cairo, which was hit by a bomb attack in December claimed by ISIL that killed 29 people.
The attack was the deadliest targeting the Coptic community since the 2011 suicide bombing that killed 23 people in Alexandria.

On Saturday, the pontiff will preside over a mass for the country’s small Catholic community, estimated to number around 272,000 spread across various rites.
Egypt has seen a wave of attacks against Christians since 2013, when the military led by Sisi overthrew President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president.
For decades, Christians have complained of discrimination, saying they are denied top jobs in many fields, including academia and the security forces.
They have also accused the security forces of failing to do enough to protect them from “religious extremists”, a complaint that has persisted under Sisi’s rule.

….
Taken from: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/pope-francis-arrives-egypt-historic-day-visit-170428113013811.html

Advertisements

Pope Francis goes to Egypt as a “messenger of peace”

Egyptian Coptic Christians protest attacks on Christians and churches, in front of the state television building in Cairo.

April 25, 2017

Pope Francis said he wants his visit to Egypt “to be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East, a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world” in a video message to the Egyptian people released on Tuesday ahead of his April 28-29 visit to the country.

Pope Francis goes to Egypt as a “messenger of peace”

An altar boy holds a candle during a service at Saint Cyrill Greek Catholic Church, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, April 23, 2017. Pope Francis is scheduled to make a two-day pilgrimage to Egypt this week. (Credit: Amr Nabil/AP.)

ROME — Pope Francis has sent a video message to the people of Egypt ahead of this weekend’s two day visit to the country, saying he hopes his trip “will make a fruitful contribution to interreligious dialogue with the followers of Islam and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerable and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church.”

On Friday, April 28, the pope will participate in an international peace conference taking place at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which is the most prominent institution in the Sunni world.

Francis will join Pope Tawadros II, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, and Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of the worldwide Orthodox Communion (which does not include the Coptic Church), to present a united Christian front at the meeting, which Al-Azhar said was called to encourage “respect instead of rejecting each other, to live in peace instead of fighting, and to tolerate instead of being fanatical.”

On Saturday, April 29, Francis will celebrate Mass for the local Catholic community before flying home to Rome in the late afternoon.

In his video message, released on Tuesday, the pope said he was coming as “a friend, as a messenger of peace, and a pilgrim” to Egypt.

He noted Egypt was  “the land where Patriarchs and Prophets lived, and where God, Benevolent and Merciful, the Almighty and One God, made his voice heard,” and was the place which “gave refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family as they fled the threats of King Herod.

“I would like this visit to be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East, a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world, in which Egypt holds so important a place,” Francis said. “I would also hope that my visit will make a fruitful contribution to interreligious dialogue with the followers of Islam and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerable and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church.”

Francis also referenced a spate of violence which has left dozens of people dead over the past weeks in Egypt, including twin bombings at two churches in Tanta and Alexandria, which left at least 45 people dead.

Egyptian police later arrested 13 people who were planning attacks against Christians and public institutions in the country.

“Our world is torn by blind violence, a violence that has also struck the heart of your beloved land,” the pontiff said in his video message.

“Our world needs peace, love and mercy,” Francis continued, “it needs peacemakers, people who are free and who set others free, men and women of courage who can learn from the past in order to build the future, free of every form of prejudice.  Our world needs people who can build bridges of peace, dialogue, fraternity, justice and humanity.”

Pope Francis will show his solidarity with the victims of anti-Christian violence on Friday, when he and Tawadros will visit the church of Sts. Peter and Paul, which had been bombed during a  Mass in December 2016, leaving 24 people dead and dozens of others injured.

The Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, on Monday said that although heavy security is the “new normal,” Francis will not use an armored car during his visit to Egypt.

….

Taken from: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/04/25/pope-francis-goes-egypt-messenger-peace/