Pope Francis insists he’ll go on with his plans to visit Egypt this month despite two bomb blasts at Coptic Christian churches over the weekend that killed at least 45 people and injured more than 100 celebrating Palm Sunday.
The trip is partly aimed at boosting interfaith relations. The pope is scheduled to meet with the grand imam of al-Azhar and the head of the Coptic Christian church.
The Pope 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.
Pope Francis has decried the church attacks in Egypt; he expressed his deep condolences to Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the Egyptian nation.
Pope Francis was celebrating a Palm Sunday Mass for tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square when the Vatican received word of the bombings. In swiftly prepared comments, he said:
“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 Pope will also meet Egyptian President Sisi and other top government officials.