‘May the Holy Family, who once found refuge in Egypt, bless and protect its people with prosperity, fraternity and peace.’
Pope Francis gave this advice during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, his first since his April 28-29 trip to Egypt, which marked his 18th Apostolic Visit abroad and 27th country visited.
It also marked the second time that a Pope goes to the north African nation, after the visit of St. Pope John Paul II in 2000.
As he usually does following Apostolic Journeys, the Pontiff’s catechesis focuses on his recent trip.
In addition however, ahead of his upcoming Apostolic Visit to Fatima, May 12-13, for the centenary of the Marian apparitions, the Holy Father also took into account that it is May, Mary’s month, and encouraged all faithful to pray to her, especially with the rosary.
In his catechesis, the Pope recalled that he had been invited to Egypt by its President, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the Catholic Coptic Patriarch, and thanked all those who helped in planning and organization.
“I saw the beauty of the Church in Egypt,” Francis highlighted. Especially at Mass with the Catholic community, and in my meeting with priests, religious and seminarians, he noted, “I encouraged everyone to persevere in the hope of the Gospel.”
Egypt has some 90 million inhabitants, a majority of whom, at least 85%, are Muslims. About 10% of the population are Orthodox Coptic Christians. 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.
The Holy Father pointed out that his meeting with the Grand Imam, and his message to the International Conference for Peace, “recalled that peace is the fruit of an education to wisdom and a humanism that respects the religious dimension of our existence.”
Our Covenant With God
“Our covenant with God, grounded in the commandment of love of God and neighbour, inspires our efforts to build a just and peaceful civil order in which all have a part to play.”
“Egypt’s great cultural and religious heritage,” Francis said, “gives the nation a special role in this work of peacemaking.”
Turning to his meeting with the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, Pope Tawadros II, Francis noted: “we reaffirmed our mutual commitment to unity and prayed together for the victims of the recent attacks.”
During the two-day journey, the Pope was 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 was his private secretary, official of the secretariat of state, Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, a Catholic Coptic priest of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full Text of General Audience: https://zenit.org/articles/general-audience-on-popes-visit-to-egypt/