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Pablo Blanco Sarto, Professor of Theology School
The trip to Egypt. Pope Francis visit to Copts and Muslims
The Pope's trip to Egypt is undoubtedly one of the most delicate of his pontificate, two weeks after the attacks on two Coptic churches that left 25 dead. It is a trip first of all to build bridges with the Islamic world, after being invited by the President of Al Azhar, the university that prepares most of the Sunni imams, and the Islamic committee of the elders, created to "put an end to the sectarianism and violence that have afflicted the Muslim world for decades". Never before has a Pope been invited to address the most prominent theological tribune in the Islamic world.
"Al Salamò Alaikum / Peace be with you", Francis said in the video-message prior to his apostolic journey, which has as its motto: "The Pope of peace in the Egypt of peace". Francis travels to Egypt to meet the few Catholics present there, and to dialogue with the Coptic Orthodox and Islam. The Bishop of Rome assured that his heart is full of "gratitude" for being able to visit the "cradle" of "civilization", "where patriarchs and prophets lived, and where God, clement and merciful, almighty and unique, made his voice resound". Peter's successor also recalled that the Holy Family took refuge in Egypt, fleeing from "the threats of King Herod (cf. Mt 2:1-16)". It was precisely there that the first Coptic Christian community arose, as early as 42 AD.
It will also be a trip to promote ecumenical dialogue, as he will be accompanied by the Orthodox Patriarchs, Bartholomew I and Theodore II. Rome, Alexandria and Constantinople will be momentarily united. The "ecumenism of blood" is becoming the best argument in favor of Christian unity. In Egypt - he added in that message - "free and liberating people", "courageous people who know how to learn from the past to build the future", "builders of bridges of peace, dialogue, fraternity, justice and humanity" are needed. Orthodox and Muslims will be present at the various meetings together with the man who came from Rome to ask for peace. For this reason, he ended by asking everyone to pray: "Please pray for me. Shukran wa Tahiahì!". It is not a useless request. It is a good occasion to accompany the Pope with our prayers as well, on a journey full of danger, symbolism and future.