Statement from Bishop Edward Burns on the Holy Father’s Trip to Egypt
I ask all people of goodwill to please remember our Holy Father Pope Francis in prayer as he travels to Egypt on April 28th and 29th. It is no surprise that he would not be deterred in making this planned visit despite the violence against Christians in Egypt on Palm Sunday.
Let us pray that the Holy Father’s presence there will be received as a sign of hope as the country continues to mourn the bombings, death and terror that have recently plagued that region. Let us also pray that his visits with both public officials and religious leaders will lead to more dialogue which results in a better understanding of one another, tolerance and ultimately peace.
Please join me in asking that God our Heavenly Father will protect Pope Francis in his travels to Egypt, that his pastoral mission to foster peace will be successful and that he can help bring an end to violence against Christians and all people in that country.
Pope Francis to visit Egypt - April 28 & 29
In his first international trip of the year, Pope Francis will be traveling to Cairo, Egypt on April 28 and 29, with the itinerary focusing on inter-faith dialogue, especially in hopes of combatting violence and Christian persecution in the area.
The pope arrives in Cairo April 28 for courtesy visits with both political and religious leaders. While in Cairo, the Holy Father will deliver a speech to an international conference on peace along with the grand imam of al-Azhar University and Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. He will celebrate Mass with the Catholic community in Cairo the next day and meet with bishops, clergy, religious and seminarians before returning to Rome on April 29.
The pope’s presence in Egypt comes as a welcome sign of hope as the region grieves from the Palm Sunday attacks on the Orthodox Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria. The first of the attacks, a bomb at a Coptic Christian church in the northern city of Tanta, Egypt killed 27 people and wounded at least 71 more, according to BBC News. A second blast took place at a Christian church in Alexandria, killing 17 and injuring another 35. ISIS has claimed responsibility for both attacks. Coptic Christians are the largest religious minority in the Middle East, but are also the most persecuted.
The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis' trip to Egypt this weekend will go on as planned, despite the Palm Sunday terrorist attacks. Pope Francis has voiced his closeness to the Coptic community and prayed for those affected during his Palm Sunday Mass. “To my dear brother, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II,” Pope Francis said, “to the Coptic Church and to all the dear Egyptian nation, I express my deep condolences. I pray for the dead and the injured, and I am close in spirit to the family members [of the deceased and injured] and to the entire community.” Pope Francis went on to pray, “May the Lord convert the hearts of the people who are sowing terror, violence and death, and also the hearts of those who make and traffic weapons.”
Prayer for Pope Francis
Please pray for the safety of Pope Francis during his travels to Egypt and for the success of his pastoral mission to foster peace and to help end the violence against Christians in Egypt. Here is a suggested prayer for our Holy Father, from the Roman Missal:
O God, Shepherd and ruler of all the faithful,
Look favorably on your servant Francis,
whom you have set at the head of your Church as her shepherd;
grant, we pray, that, by word and example,
he may be of service to those over whom he presides
so that, together with the flock entrusted to his care,
he may come to everlasting life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
- Collect, Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions: 2. For the Pope, from the New Roman Missal
Pope Francis Schedule in Egypt
Times listed are local, with Central Daylight Time in parentheses.
Friday, April 28 (Rome, Cairo)
-- 10:45 a.m. (3:45 a.m.), Departure from Rome's Leonardo da Vinci International Airport for Cairo.
-- 2 p.m. (7 a.m.), Arrival at Cairo airport. Official welcoming ceremony at the Heliopolis presidential palace. Courtesy visits with el-Sissi and Sheik el-Tayeb. Speeches by the grand imam and the pope to participants in an international conference on peace.
-- 4:40 p.m. (9:40 a.m.), Meeting with local authorities. Speeches by el-Sissi and Pope Francis. Courtesy visit to Pope Tawadros. Speeches by Pope Tawadros and Pope Francis.
Saturday, April 29 (Cairo, Rome)
-- 10:00 a.m. (3:00 a.m.), Mass in Cairo. Homily by pope.
-- 12:15 p.m. (5:15 a.m.), Lunch with Egypt's bishops and the papal entourage.
-- 3:15 p.m. (8:15 a.m.), Prayer gathering with clergy, men and women religious, and seminarians. Speech by pope. Farewell ceremony.
-- 5 p.m. (10 a.m.), Departure from Cairo airport for Rome.
-- 8:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.), Arrival at Rome's Ciampino airport.
Image credit: Andrew A. Shenouda on Flickr
St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church is the first Coptic parish that was built and established in the district of Heliopolis in Cairo, Egypt.