Pope Francis Visiting Egypt

Pope Francis Visiting EgyptPope Francis Visiting Egypt

Pope Francis landed in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Friday to promote dialogue with Muslims and support the country’s embattled Christians who have suffered a series of terrorist attacks. He will meet the Egyptian president and speak at Al-Azhar University, a key center of Sunni Islamic learning, BBC reported.

The 80-year-old pontiff said he is travelling as a “messenger of peace” and, despite security concerns, will not use an armored car. The two-day visit is the first papal trip to Cairo in 20 years and comes as Egypt’s Coptic Christians-who make up 10% of the country’s mainly Muslim population-face increased threats. The majority of the Copts are Orthodox, with less than 150,000 of them Catholic.

As well as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Pope is due to meet Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the rector of the 1,000-year-old seat of Islamic learning, Al-Azhar.

He is expected to address a conference there on religious dialogue, as part of efforts to improve relations, after Egyptian Muslim leaders cut ties over comments made by Pope Francis’s predecessor Pope Benedict XVI.

The pontiff will also meet the head of Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, and walk with him to St Mark’s Cathedral, the scene of the December bombing.

In a message ahead of the trip, Francis said he wanted the visit to be “a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East” and “a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham (PBUH), particularly the Muslim world”.

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