Africa News

Pope Francis to meet leader of Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt

Pope Francis will meet dignitaries including President Sisi and the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Pope Tawadros II at the end of April

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.

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.

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.

The Vatican’s itinerary of the trip notes that Francis has also made a point of “strengthening cooperation between Catholics and Coptic Orthodox Christians.”

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.

 

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