- Jul 7, 2020
Joaquin Navarro Valls, the longtime spokesman for Pope John Paul who played a role under the Polish pope somewhat akin to a chief of staff, died Wednesday at the age of 80 from cancer. He wasn’t without his flaws, but he was nevertheless a giant of a man, and someone who took a deep personal as well as professional interest in the people around him. Whatever else can be said, it will be a long time before we see someone else like him.
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.
Though some thought Pope Francis might be a bit oblique about anti-Christian persecution during his two-day trip to Egypt, he waded directly into the realities on Friday, reminding political and civil leaders gathered at a hotel run by the country’s defense ministry, of attacks that Coptic Christians have suffered and telling local Christians that they are “an integral part of this country.”
Though Pope Francis avoided the incendiary quotation linking the Prophet Mohammed with violence that stirred protest when used by Pope Benedict XVI at Regensburg, Germany, in 2006, he delivered a similar sort of wake-up call for religious leaders in the Islamic world, insisting that violence is a “negation of every authentic religious expression.”
Egyptian artist Ayman William has taken on the task of painting the new extension of the Cairo Church. As Coptic Christians are persecuted, churches are blown up and the Pope prepares to visit the country, this artist uses his talent to serve God.
After a spate of killings by suspected militants have spread fears among the Coptic community in Egypt, hundreds of Christians have decided to flee from the area for fear of being targeted next. At least six Christians have been brutally murdered in the last month and no group has claimed responsibility.