"We are very happy that Pope Francis is coming to us. We knew of his plans, but did not yet know the dates."
This is the immediate reaction
of Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church to the
news released by the Holy See Press Office that Pope Francis will travel
to Cairo April 28 to 29.
Press Office director, Greg Burke, says that the pope has accepted
"the invitation of the President of the Republic, the Bishops of the
Catholic Church, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and the Grand Imam of Al
Azhar Mosque, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayyib ".
"In fact - said Father. Greiche – everyone in Egypt was waiting for
this. And President Al Sisi, is the Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II, the
Grand Imam of Al Azhar mosque, as well as the entire Catholic hierarchy
have urged that there was this visit. "
The visit will be a litmus test of the security situation in the country, shaken in recent weeks by attacks and violence.
"The Pope is coming to comfort the largest community of Christians of
the East," said Fr. Greiche, "and to support us in our coexistence with
Muslims." His coming, he added, "will also be a way to honor Christian
martyrs, who were killed because of their faith."
Last December 11, 25 Coptic Christians were killed in St Peter's Church, adjacent to the St. Mark's Cathedral.
In recent weeks, several Christians were killed in North Sinai.
All the attacks were claimed by the Islamic State.