Cairo – Vatican’s Pope Francis headed on Saturday a seminary, before concluding his visit to Cairo.
Pope Francis arrived at the Air Defense Stadium in New Cairo to great applause from the waiting crowd.
He started his Mass with the “As-Salaam Alaikum,” the traditional Muslim greeting in Arabic that means “Peace be upon you,” and ended it with “al-Masih qam! Bi-l-haqiqa qam! (Christ is risen! He is truly risen)”.
He ended his two-day visit with a prayer described as “washing the grief” of Coptic Christians, who have recently lost dozens to horrific attacks by terror group ISIS.
Following a joint signing of an agreement on the rules of baptism in the Catholic and Coptic churches — which will mean that the Coptic Orthodox Church will now recognize Catholic baptisms — Alexandria’s Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church Tawadros II offered Pope Francis a wooden Coptic-style cross.
An estimated 25,000 devout Christians from all sects attended the Cairo stadium at which Francis raised the notions of peace and compassion.
Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak also gave a speech, thanking the pontiff for his visit, which he said can be summarized as “the pope of peace visiting the land of peace.”
Patriarch Ibrahim concluded his speech by saying that Pope Francis’ visit overwhelmed the hearts of Egyptian Catholics with joy and filled their lives with blessings. He presented Pope Francis with a wooden shield.
The Pope had arrived in Egypt on a trip designed to bridge the gap between Muslim-Christian brotherhoods and show solidarity amid rising threats of terror. His visit comes nearly two weeks after the Palm Sunday bombing of two Coptic churches, which left at least 45 people dead.
Heavy security surrounded the Pope as he entered Cairo’s Air Defense Stadium in an open golf cart.
The Pope said that “religiosity means nothing unless it is inspired by deep faith and charity.”
“True faith is one that makes us more charitable, more merciful, more honest and more humane,” he said.
The crowd in the stadium waved small Vatican City and Egyptian flags, with a larger Egyptian flag being held up by number of people in the audience. Balloons were released into the air as the pope toured the stadium.