Cairo (AsiaNews) - Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II stopped his prayer retreat at the monastery of al-Bishoy (Alexandria) to meet the families of the victims of fighting between Christians and Muslims on 7 April in al-Khosous that left seven people dead and hundreds injured.
Held yesterday evening behind closed doors, the meeting marks a shift by the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church to a tougher position towards the government, following the attack on St Mark Cathedral on 9 April.
The incident also pushed Christians and Muslims into to the streets to demonstrate against sectarian violence and the deliberate attacks against St Mark Cathedral.
Tawadros II expressed his sympathy for the victims, said Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, as well as his concern about the plight of the Christian community in Egypt, highlighted by his decision to retreat to the monastery.
The patriarch's criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government and his appeal to President Morsi to take a clear stance against sectarian strife have had some positive results, Fr Greiche noted.
Yesterday, the Egyptian president dispatched representatives to talk with Patriarchate officials. He probably also issued an apology for the allegations made against Copts, unfairly accused by some of his officials of having provoked the clashes.
For his part, Tawadros II confirmed his trip to Rome to meet Pope Francis. The visit will take place in the second week of May, after Orthodox Easter, which this year falls on 5 May. The Catholic community will take part in the celebration. (S.C.)