- Junno Arocho Esteves
- May 11, 2017
Pope Francis has sent Pope Tawadros II a letter commemorating the “Day of friendship between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church,” which marks the 44th anniversary of the first meeting between Blessed Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III.
Pope Francis said on Wednesday that his April 28-29 trip to Egypt was intended as a “sign of peace” and a way of promoting a vision of “healthy secularism” for the entire Middle East region, in which religion and state are separate but religion is encouraged and allowed to flourish. He called on Christians in the Middle East to be “salt and light,” and prayed for new Christian martyrs.
Christian leaders in the region say Pope Francis’s April 28-29 trip to Egypt was a great success. The pope has backed Egypt’s efforts to tackle Islamic militancy, saying the country has a special role to play in forging regional peace as well as in “vanquishing all violence and terrorism.”
Six years ago, a pope addressed Egypt, expressing outrage over an attack on a Christian church and calling for efforts against religious extremism, and the political and clerical establishment bristled. Now, Pope Francis came to Egypt and said much the same thing, and was embraced. One thing that seems to have changed is the mounting frustration of ordinary people here with terrorism and violence.
In a typically wide-ranging press conference at the end of his two-day trip to Egypt, Pope Francis warned that a widened conflict around nuclear-armed North Korea could have disastrous consequences, saying it could wipe out a “good part of humanity,” The pontiff called for a diplomatic solution and said the role of the United Nations has been overly “watered down.”
Pope Francis met with Egypt’s priests, religious, and seminarians at Cairo’s Al-Maadi Seminary on the final day of his April 28-29 visit to the country, intended to both offer support to local Christians and strengthen interfaith and ecumenical ties in the region. Given Egypt’s rich monastic history, the pontiff told the religious to draw from the example of figures such as Saint Paul the Hermit, Saint Anthony and the Desert Fathers.