03/20/2017, 14.55
EGYPT - VATICAN

Work begins on program for Pope Francis visit to Egypt

Over the weekend a Vatican delegation meets with the Egyptian president. Al Sisi’s "great esteem" for Pope Francis. The visit to the President, the Coptic Patriarch, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar. An ecumenical meeting and prayer for the martyrs next to St. Mark's Cathedral, where three months ago a bomb attack took place. Meetings with Catholics. The press broke the news, but without comment. The silence of the Salafis.

 

Cairo (AsiaNews) - A Vatican delegation will meet with a delegation of the president Abdelfattah Al Sisi this weekend to finalize the program of the visit of Pope Francis. The visit, which was announced two days ago, will take place on 28 and 29 April.

In honor and to ensure maximum safety, all the technical preparation has been entrusted to staff of the Egyptian president. Two days ago, in the official announcement of the visit, a statement which says that "Egypt warmly welcomes its valued guest and that looks forward to this visit as a message of peace, tolerance and dialogue between different religions of all mankind". President Al Sisi, who visited the pope at the Vatican in 2014, "has a great esteem for Pope Francis and admired his moral and spiritual stature, as well as his courageous positions on some international issues."

From the information received from Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, the program will be very intense and is taking place in a period, after Easter, in which there are many meetings, prayers, feasts. This year the Orthodox and Catholic Easter fall on the same day.

The first day, April 28, he will first visit President Al Sisi, then the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II and then the grand imam of Al Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb. It is very likely that in this last visit, the pontiff will also meet with university professors, Koranic doctors and other personalities of the Council of the Muslim scholars.

Later the Pope, along with Tawadros, will preside an ecumenical prayer for the martyrs. The desire of Christians is to keep this moment in the seat of the Coptic patriarchate, near the cathedral of St. Mark and St. Peter's Church, where last December 11 25 worshipers were killed in an attack along with 50 wounded. But for the security apparatus has not yet given permission.

The next day, April 29, will be entirely dedicated to meetings with Catholics. The papal rallies are planned together with the bishops, priests and religious as well as laity.

For now, the Arab newspapers have given all the news of the visit of Pope Francis, but without comment, even by Salafis newspapers, generally critical of President Al Sisi and towards other religions.

 

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