Pope Francis Kicks Off Visit to Cairo

Marks 18th Apostolic Journey Abroad, 27th Country Visited

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Pope Francis has arrived in Egypt. The papal flight Alitalia A321 landed in the Egyptian capital of Cairo at about 2 p.m. local time.
This visit, April 28-29, marks Francis’ 18th Apostolic Journey abroad, and 27th country visited. It also marks the second time that a Pope goes to the north African nation, after the visit of John Paul II in 2000.
Upon his arrival, Pope Francis had the welcome ceremony at the presidential palace of Heliopolis, the courtesy visit to the President of the Republic.

The Pope then will visit the Great Imam of Al-Azhar, and there will be an exchange of gifts.
Pope Francis was invited to Egypt by President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the great Imam of al-Azhar University, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed al-Tayeb, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, and by the Catholic bishops.
The Holy Father will give three speeches today: one to the nation’s authorities and diplomatic corps, another at an international conference on peace in Al-Azhar, and the last during his visit with Tawadros II.
During his journey, the Pope is accompanied by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, Cardinals Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Unity, and Apostolic Nuncio in Egypt, Bishop Bruno Musaró. The interpreter of the Pope will be his private secretary, official of the secretariat of state, Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, a Catholic Coptic priest of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
Egypt has some 90 million inhabitants, a majority of whom, at least 85%, are Muslims. About 10% of the population are Orthodox Coptic Christians, and the Catholics, who are broken up between Coptic Catholics and different rites: Coptic, Latin, Armenian , Melkite, Maronite, Syro-Catholic, etc., make up less than 1% of the population.Their bishops are gathered in the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy presided over by the Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak.

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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': or

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