Pope Francis to visit Egypt end of April

19-03-2017 07:31 PM

Michael Victor


Pope Francis will be visiting Egypt on 28 – 29 April, according to a statement by

Egypt’s presidency. The visit comes upon invitation from President Abdel-Fattah

al-Sisi, Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Ishaq and the Coptic Catholic bishops

during their ad limina visit at the Vatican on 6 February; Pope Tawadros II of the

Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-

Tayyeb.

The presidential statement said that: “Egypt welcomes its valued guest, and affirms

that it is looking forward to this visit as a message of peace, tolerance and dialogue

between all mankind from all religions.” The statement said that President Sisi,

who met the Pope during a 2014 visit to the Vatican, holds Pope Francis in high

regard and admires his moral and spiritual stature as well as his courageous stances

on a number of international issues.”

Pope Francis’s visit will coincide with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic

relationships between Egypt and the Vatican.

Interfaith dialogue

Pope Francis’s itinerary, which has not yet been published in detail, will include a

visit to al-Azhar, the world’s foremost authority on Sunni Islam, where he will

meet Shekh Dr al-Tayyeb.

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Dialogue between Al-Azhar and the Vatican was frozen six years ago when al-

Azhar cut contacts over what it said were insults to Islam. At the time, the then

Pope Benedict has condemned the bombing of Alexandria’s church of the Two

Saints; the bombing killed 23 Copts and injured scores as they left church after

Midnight service on New Year Eve 2011. Al-Azhar had accused the Vatican at the

time of alleging that religious minorities faced discrimination by Muslims in the

Middle East.

In May 2016, relations between the two religious bodies started to improve when

Pope Francis met Grand Imam al-Tayyeb in Rome. Since then relations have

continued to move forward, leading to an announcement by the Vatican on 20

October 2016 that sometime this spring the Holy See and al-Azhar Mosque and

adjunct University would officially resume dialogue. Pope Francis’ visit to Cairo

and to al-Azhar in April will likely mark the official resumption of this dialogue.

Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros: Brotherly love

Pope Francis will be paying a visit to the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt, and to

the Coptic Orthodox Church where he will meet Pope Tawadros II. The Coptic

Orthodox Pope had visited Pope Francis in Rome in May 2013, the first such visit

in 40 years. The one that preceded it had taken place in 1973 when Pope Shenouda

III visited Pope Paul VI; this in turn was the first meeting between the two

Churches since the great rift that followed the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

Pope Francis had described the 2013 visit by Pope Tawadros as “an embrace of

peace and fraternity, after centuries of mistrust.”

“May this visit of love and brotherhood,” Pope Tawadros had said, “be the first of

a long series between our two great Churches.” He proposed that the date 10 May

would be celebrated each year as the Day of Brotherly Love between the two

Churches, “so that we may be always reminded that we have already solidly

embarked on the path of unity.”

http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs- coptic-affairs/coptic-

affairs/pope-francis- meets-pope- tawadros/1889/

http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs- coptic-affairs/coptic-

affairs/third-anniversary- brotherly-love/16348/

Watani International

19 March 2017

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