Cairo – Despite Sunday’s twin bombings on Coptic Christian churches that killed 44 people and wounded over 100, Pope Francis trip to Egypt this month is still going ahead and has not been cancelled. The news was delivered by Bishop Emmanuel Ayad Archbishop of Luxor’s Catholic Christians and Chairman of the Organizing Committee for Pope Francis’ visit.
Speaking to Middle East News Agency (MENA), Ayad stressed that the recent attacks “will not cancel the Pope visit to Egypt,” pointing out that there have been several communications with the Vatican authorities over the required logistical and security arrangements for the visit.
Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the Vatican deputy secretary of state, stated that events on Sunday, however tragic, “could not impede the pope from carrying out his mission.”
“There is no doubt that the pope will carry out his intention to go,” Becciu said, adding, “What happened caused disorder and tremendous suffering, but it cannot stop the pope’s mission of peace.”
Pope Francis was celebrating Palm Sunday mass for tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square when the Vatican received word of the bombings. The Pope commented on the tragic incidents saying: “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.”
The pontiff is due to visit Cairo on April 28 and April 29 at the invitation of Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, as well at Catholic bishops in Egypt.
Tawadros was leading a congregation at mass in Alexandria’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral when it was attacked. He was not hurt. That blast in Egypt’s second-largest city came hours after a bomb struck a Coptic church in Tanta, a nearby city in the Nile Delta.
The Vatican also sent several communiques about logistics to journalists due to accompany the pope on his plane, in another indication that the trip was still on, Reuters indicated.
The trip is partly aimed at boosting interfaith relations. The pope has a scheduled meeting with President Sisi, Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb and the country’s Coptic Pope Tawadros.