Monday,22 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1342, (27 April - 3 May 2017)
Monday,22 April, 2019
Issue 1342, (27 April - 3 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

In Cairo, Pope Francis calls for a new dawn

In Cairo, Pope Francis called for a dialogue of civilization and respect of religious liberties. Dina Ezzat reports

Pope Francis and Egypt
Pope Francis and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi shake hands during a private audience

“We are hoping for the sun of a new fraternity to rise above our world.” This was the key message of a less than 10-minute address Pope Francis gave at Al-Azhar on Friday 28 April in Cairo.

The pope of the Catholic Church, who arrived in Egypt earlier in the day, spoke during the closing session of a two-day international peace conference hosted by Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s most important centre of Islamic teaching, with a large participation of Muslim and Christian clergy.

In his address, Pope Francis stressed the role of education, development and dialogue as essential requirements to end the call for violence.

He also said that an end has to be put to the access of arms and money which are used by some people to commit acts of violence and that religious liberties and rights should be respected.

Pope Francis expressed gratitude to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayyeb for having called for the conference on international peace.

In his address, Al-Tayyeb stressed the need for dialogue and fraternity to prevail. He argued that the time had come for religion to assume the call of peace and to take the world back to the path of spirituality that would put violence and anger aside.

In his address before the closing session of the international peace conference, the Grand Imam said Islam cannot be called a religion of terror because of the acts of a few who misconstrued the holy text and fell prey to the evil wishes of some, just as Christianity cannot be called a religion of violence due to the Crusades or Judaism or the occupation of territories.

The Grand Imam said the world did not label European civilisation as one of terror despite two world wars, nor did it do so with American civilisation despite the calamity of Hiroshima.

The participation of Pope Francis and Grand Imam Al-Tayyeb in the concluding session of the peace conference came after a meeting that brought the two men together at the office of Al-Tayyeb where a dialogue between Al-Azhar and the Vatican was discussed.

The visit of Pope Francis to Al-Azhar in Old Cairo came after his talks with President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi at the presidential palace in Heliopolis.

Pope Francis arrived in Cairo on 28 April for a 27-hour visit.

Later in the day, Pope Francis will meet Patriarch of the Coptic Church Tawdros II at the Coptic Cathedral in Abbassiya.

Pope Francis and Pope Tawdros are expected to discuss an end to a long disagreement between the Coptic and Catholic churches over the requirements of baptism in churches.

Francis and Tawdros will then join a prayer at St Peter’s Church which was the target of a terrorist bomb attack claimed by Islamic State in December last year.

On Saturday morning 29 April the pope will hold a mass and pray for peace and prosperity in Egypt and the world.

This is the first papal visit to Egypt since Pope John Paul II visited in 2000.

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