Pope Francis, making a two-day visit to Egypt, met on Friday (April 28) with Pope Tawadros II, head of Egypt‘s Coptic Orthodox Church, who narrowly escaped a church bombing in Alexandria this month.
Earlier the pontiff met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, widely considered among the most moderate clerics inEgypt.
Pope Francis urged Muslim leaders to unite in renouncing religious extremism at a time when Islamist militants are targeting ancient Christian communities across the Middle East.
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.
His visit to Cairo is also aimed at bolstering sometimes frosty relations with Coptic churches. He will go to 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.