- Feb 25, 2020
In a private meeting with Pope Francis, Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East had an opportunity to sound the alarm regarding the survival of Christians in the region as a result of persecution, extremism, economic insecurity and immigration to the West.
Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, the head of the Coptic Catholic Church, says after several attacks in the last 12 months by Islamic militants, Christians in Egypt have shown their “unshakable faith.” He was speaking at an event sponsored by the Italian branch of Aid to the Church in Need.
An Indian priest living in Egypt says Pope Francis’s visit has special significance not only in promoting dialogue between Al Azhar and the Vatican, but also in strengthening the culture of peace and coexistence between followers of Christianity and Islam.
Pope Francis said he wants his visit to Egypt “to be a witness of my affection, comfort and encouragement for all the Christians of the Middle East, a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world” in a video message to the Egyptian people released on Tuesday ahead of his April 28-29 visit to the country.
Pope Francis has decided to visit Egypt despite rising tensions in the region that have caused violence and bloodshed. But Christians in Egypt feel that the pope’s visit will show “that we are all one family, even though we might have different last names.”
At the invitation of the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar mosque and university, considered the most prestigious center of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople will join Pope Francis later this month for an international conference on peace in Cairo. Bartholomew, considered the “first among equals” among Orthodox leaders, has a long history of making common cause with Pope Francis, including joint events in the Holy Land, the Vatican, and Greece.