Pope Francis, during a two-day visit to Egypt, said on Friday (April 28) the country plays a unique role in combating terrorism and in achieving peace in the Middle East.
Speaking to religious and political officials at a hotel in Cairo, Francis offered his condolences to all those who have fallen victim to terrorism in Egypt, including Coptic Christians.
Francis’s trip, aimed at improving Christian-Muslim ties, comes just three weeks after Islamic State suicide bombers killed at least 45 people in two Egyptian churches.
He is the second pope to visit Egypt, the most populous Arab nation, following John Paul II who came in 2000, a year before the September 11 attacks on the United States that convulsed Western relations with the Muslim world.
While Egypt has escaped the sort of violence that has engulfed Syria and Iraq, its Christian community has felt the full force of Islamist militants over the past six months, with bomb attacks in several churches.
Pope Francis will visit Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral to pray for the 28 people killed in a Christmas season blast last year and lay flowers in their memory. Copts represent about 10 percent of Egypt‘s 92 million population.