Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, is scheduled to make a two-day trip to Egypt on April 28-29.
The pope will meet with dignitaries including Egypt’s President Sisi and the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Pope Tawadros II.
Please pray for my journey tomorrow as a pilgrim of peace to Egypt.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 27, 2017
The pope’s trip comes just weeks after twin attacks at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria and St. George’s Coptic Church in Tanta killed at least 44 people and injured 100 others. Egypt’s Cabinet approved a three-month state of emergency in response.
After meeting with Pope Tawadros II, the two will travel to and pray at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church near Cairo in which a suicide bomber killed himself and up to 25 others in December of 2016.
On Friday, Francis is scheduled to speak at al-Azhar University in Cairo, founded around the year 970.
Ready to go#EgyptPope #PopeFrancis pic.twitter.com/DsaRAtHqnZ
— Greg Burke (@GregBurkeRome) April 28, 2017
In a conference call preceding the trip, Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke noted security concerns, but that the trip would “move ahead with serenity.”
The pope will be driven in a “normal car” between venues and will be leaving the armored Popemobile at home.
Massive security presence in #Cairo – ahead of Pope's visit. Nasr city every other lamppost / part of bridge has a plain clothed or officer
— Bel Trew (@Beltrew) April 28, 2017
The Vatican’s itinerary of the trip notes that Francis has also made a point of “strengthening cooperation between Catholics and Coptic Orthodox Christians.”
Pope Francis sends video message ahead of Egypt visit §RV https://t.co/vx0enCxzWa
— Vatican – news (@news_va_en) April 25, 2017
The Catholic News Services estimates there are around 272,000 Catholics in Egypt, or less than 1 percent of the population. Coptic Orthodox Christians account for approximately 5 percent of the country’s population, which is approximately 90% Sunni Muslim.
#PopeFrancis met 9 Egyptian migrants as he left Vatican for two day visit this morning. #EgyptPope
— JosephineMcKenna (@JosephineMcK) April 28, 2017