Middle East and North Africa

Christians to welcome Pope Francis to Egypt after church attacks

After the Palm Sunday bomb blasts at two Coptic churches which killed nearly 50 Christians Egypt’s Christian community is coming together to welcome Pope Francis to the country.

Three thousand young Catholics are part of the arrangements to welcome the Pope. About 250 young people from each of Egypt’s Catholic Dioceses will greet the Pontiff in Cairo on Friday.

Fr Hani Kiroulos, a member of the organizing team, from the Coptic Catholic Church said: “Many young people have the desire to participate in the huge event.”

Many of the young Catholics are supported by the Roman Catholic agency, Aid to the Church which will cover their costs.

Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of ACN (UK), said: “We are pleased to support Egyptian Christians welcoming Pope Francis to their capital this April. We pray for our Catholic family the 3,000 children and our Holy Father’s safety as well as all other Christians gathering with their Muslim neighbours as an expression of tolerance after recent attacks by extremists.” He said. “Our prayers go out to them as they embark on their peaceful pilgrimage. We wish them all a safe and spiritual enriching journey.”

Johannes Heereman, ACN’s executive president, said, “Together with our financial support we will launch a social media prayer action to accompany this important visit of the Holy Father.”

The trip, for the young Catholics, will include a visit to the Virgin Mary shrine, and voluntary work at shelters for the vulnerable and at hospitals.