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Ambiguity Over Pope’s Visit to Cairo after Church Blasts | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed at least 21 in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Cairo – Reliable church sources revealed that Pope Francis visit to Cairo – scheduled end of April – might possibly be canceled. They revealed that during the past hours the Coptic Church and the Vatican discussed the anticipated visit following the two church attacks that killed dozens.

Initial figures revealed the death of 46 Egyptians and the injury of a minimum of 80 in a qualitative operation that has the fingerprints of ISIS Sinai Province that threatened in the beginning of 2017 to target Copts in Egypt.

A church source, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There is communication between leaders of the Coptic Church and the Vatican in an attempt to reach a final decision regarding the visit. Nothing is certain now but most probably the visit has been cancelled or delayed. We are waiting an official announcement from the Vatican.”

Vatican’s Pope, who has not made any direct public comment on the current crisis in Middle East, led mass as international tensions increased following the US missile strike on a Syrian airbase, which the Pentagon says was involved in a chemical weapons attack that killed 87 people.

While the pope was celebrating mass for tens of thousands of people, the Vatican received word on one of the blasts.

“I pray for the dead and the victims. May the Lord convert the hearts of people who sow terror, violence and death and even the hearts of those who produce and traffic in weapons,” he said in hastily prepared comments at the end.

Egyptian presidency and the Vatican press office announced mid of March that Pope Francis will come in a first official visit to Egypt on April 28-29 upon invitation from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.