VATICAN CITY APRIL 11, 2017 (CISA) – Pope Francis’ trip to Egypt at the end of the month will go on as planned, despite terrorist attacks which killed more than 43 people during Palm Sunday celebrations in the country, the Vatican has said.
“There is no doubt the Holy Father will maintain his offer to go to Egypt on April 28 and 29,” Monsignor Angelo Becciu, the number three official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, said in an interview on April 10.
The first of Sunday’s attacks, a bomb at the Coptic Christian church of Mar Gerges in the northern city of Tanta, Egypt killed 27 people and wounded at least 71 more, according to officials.
A second blast took place shortly after outside of a Christian church in Alexandria, killing 17 and injuring another 35. The man, a suicide bomber, had tried to storm the entrance to the church before being stopped by police, three of whom died in the blast. ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Monsignor Becciu, who will travel to Egypt with the pontiff, described the bombings as an “attack on dialogue and on peace” but added that “what happened caused disorder and tremendous suffering, but it cannot stop the Pope’s mission of peace.”
After celebrating Palm Sunday Mass on April 9, the Pope also voiced his condolences for victims of the double bombing.
“May the Lord convert the heart of those who sow terror, violence and death and also the heart of those who make weapons and trade in them,” said Pope Francis.
The attack in Alexandria narrowly missed harming the Coptic Patriarch Pope Tawadros II, who was participating in Mass inside the church and who is one of the religious leaders Pope Francis plans to meet with while in Cairo at the end of April.
The Pope plans to visit the Egyptian capital of Cairo April 28-29, in what is largely a bid to foster greater Catholic-Muslim dialogue, particularly on the point of ending extremist violence.
He will become the second Roman Catholic pope to visit Egypt, following John Paul II’s historic trip there in February 2000. The Vatican’s slogan for the trip is “Pope of peace in Egypt of peace.”