The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, will be in Cairo next to Pope Francis during the the Pontiff ‘s trip to Egypt on April 28-29. Together, they will visit Al-Azhar University, thus giving a strong sign in favor of Christian unity and inter-religious dialogue.
According to the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire, the head of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople made the announcement personally during the celebration of Easter in Phanar, Turkey, on April 16. “I have also been invited by Al-Azhar University to Cairo on April 28 and will be able to be with Pope Francis,” he said. Bartholomew added that he received a letter from his “brother,” the Latin American Pope, on the occasion of the feast of Easter.
The Ecumenical Patriarch, Pope Francis and the Pope of the Orthodox Copts Tawadros II, will meet together the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, Sheik Ahmed Mohamed al-Tayeb.
This visit will foster dialogue with the other High Authorities of Sunni Islam, who condemn terrorism and religious fanaticism.
In recent years, Bartholomew I and Pope Francis have carried out several joint initiatives: in May of 2014 they travelled together to the Holy Land; on June 8 of the same year, they prayed next to one another for peace in the region with the Presidents of Israel and Palestine.
In April of 2016 they met in the Greek Island of Lesbos, to speak together for immigrants and refugees. The following September the two Pastors were together again in Assisi, on the occasion of the inter-religious meeting for peace.