This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
In his address in Italian, the Pope reflected on his recent Apostolic Journey to Egypt.
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
Below is a ZENIT working translation of Pope Francis’ address this morning:
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The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today I wish to speak to you about my Apostolic Journey that, with God’s help, I carried out in the past days to Egypt. I went to that country following a fourfold invitation: of the President of the Republic, of His Holiness the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and of the Coptic Catholic Patriarch. I thank each one of them for their truly warm hospitality to me. And I thank all the Egyptian people for their participation and the affection with which they lived this visit of the Successor of Peter.
The President and Civil Authorities made an extraordinary effort so that this event could unfold in the best ways; so that it could be a sign of peace, a sign of peace for Egypt and for all that region that, unfortunately, suffers due to conflicts and terrorism. In fact, the motto of the trip was “The Pope of Peace in an Egypt of Peace.”
My visit to Al-Azhar University, the oldest Muslim University and highest academic institution of Sunni Islam, had a double horizon: that of dialogue between Christians and Muslims and, at the same time, that of promotion of peace in the world. The meeting with the Grand Imam happened at Al-Azhar, a meeting that then extended to the International Conference for Peace. In this context I offered a reflection, which valued the history of Egypt as land of civilization and land of covenant. For the whole of humanity Egypt is synonym of ancient civilization, of art treasures and knowledge, and this reminds us that peace is built through education, formation of knowledge, a humanism that includes as an integral part the religious dimension, the relation with God as the Grand Imam recalled in his address. Peace is built also by starting again from the covenant between God and man, foundation of the covenant among all men, based on the Decalogue written on the stone tablets of Sinai, but much more profoundly in the heart of every man of every time and place, a law that is summarized in the two Commandments of love of God and of neighbor.
The same foundation is also at the basis of the construction of the social and civil order, in which all citizens of every origin, culture and religion are called to collaborate. Such a vision of healthy laicism emerged in the exchange of addresses with the President of the Republic of Egypt, in the presence of the Authorities of the country and of the Diplomatic Corps. The great historical and religious patrimony of Egypt and its role in the Middle Eastern region confer on it a peculiar task in the path to a stable and lasting peace, that leans not on the right of force but on the force of law.
Christians in Egypt, as in every nation of the earth, are called to be leaven of fraternity. And this is possible if they live in themselves communion in Christ. We were able to give a strong sign of communion, thanks be to God, together with my dear brother Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of the Orthodox Copts. We renewed the commitment, also signing a joint declaration to walk together and our commitment […] We prayed together for the martyrs of the recent attacks that, tragically, struck that venerable Church, and their blood has fecundated that ecumenical meeting, in which the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew also participated: the Ecumenical Patriarch, my dear brother.
The second day of the trip was dedicated to the Catholic faithful. The Holy Mass celebrated in the Stadium, put at our disposition by the Egyptian Authorities, was a celebration of faith and of fraternity, in which we felt the living presence of the Risen Lord. Commenting on the Gospel, I exhorted the small Catholic community in Egypt to relive the experience of the disciples of Emmaus: to always find in Christ, Word and Bread of life, the joy of the faith, the ardor of hope and the strength to witness in love that “we have encountered the Lord!”
And I lived the last moment together with the priests, men and women religious and seminarians in the Major Seminary. There are so many seminarians: this is a consolation! It was a Liturgy of the Word, in which the promises of consecrated life were renewed. In this community of men and women, who have chosen to give their life to Christ for the Kingdom of God, I saw the beauty of the Church in Egypt, and I prayer for all Christians of the Middle East so that, led by theirpPastors and accompanied by the consecrated, they are salt and light in those lands, in the midst of those peoples. For us, Egypt has been a sign of hope, of refuge and of help. When that part of the world was hungry, Jacob went there with his sons; then, when Jesus was persecuted, He went there. Therefore, to tell you about this trip means to follow the path of hope: for us, Egypt is that sign of hope be it because of the history be it because of today, of this fraternity of which I wished to tell you.
I thank again those who made this trip possible and all those who in different ways made their contribution, especially the many persons who offered their prayers and sufferings. May the Holy Family of Nazareth, which emigrated <to> the banks of the Nile to escape Herod’s violence, bless and always protect the Egyptian people and guide them on the way of prosperity, fraternity and peace.
Thank you![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
A warn welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. I am happy to receive the students of Saint Paul’s Pontifical Missionary College of Rome, and the participants in the Course promoted by the Pontifical Auxilium Faculty of the Sciences of Education. I greet the Civic Network of Mayors for Hospitality of the Province of Varese; the faithful of Albanella; the members of the Peace Arsenal of Turin and the 24th of July Association.
On the day of the feast of Saints Philip and James I wish for each one of you that the memory of the Apostles, joyful heralds of the Risen One, will enhance your faith and encourage your witness of the Gospel.
Finally, a greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. At the beginning of the month of May we invoke the celestial intercession of Mary, Mother of Jesus. Dear young people, learn to pray to her with the simple and effective prayer of the Rosary; dear sick, may Our Lady be your support in the trial of pain; dear newlyweds, imitate her love for God and for brothers![Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]