Pope to Meet Cairo's Grand Imam of Al-Azhar

Fr. Lombardi Tells Journalists This Meeting Between Pope, Leading Authority on Sunni Islam Marks ‘a First’

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The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will meet the Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, Ahmed al Tayyeb, at the Vatican.
In an unexpected briefing in the Holy See Press Office on Thursday, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the press office director, told journalists present, “An audience between the Pope and the Imam of Al-Azhar is being prepared for Monday,” and noted that the visit’s schedule was still being defined.
Such an encounter between the Pope and the Imam of Al-Azhar, who many Muslims consider to be the highest authority in Sunni Islam, Fr. Lombardi noted, «is a first.»
The Imam of Al-Azhar heads Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque and Al-Azhar University, which the Vatican spokesman noted, is considered to be “the most authoritative theological-academic institution of Sunni Islam.”
There has been speculation this official visit would take place since February after a Vatican delegation visited Al-Azhar university and expressed the Holy See’s willingness to welcome the Grand Imam for a meeting with Pope Francis.
On the NET:
English website of Al-Azhar University: http://www.azhar.edu.eg/En/u.htm

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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