Egypt Welcomes Today “Pope of Peace”

As-salamu alaykum! (Peace be with you!)”

These were the words of Pope Francis in a video message to the Egyptian people as he is scheduled to land in Cairo today, 28 April at 2 PM (8 PM Manila time).

The Pope’s visit comes just three weeks after Egypt’s Orthodox Christian Churches became targets of bloody terrorist attacks during last Palm Sunday’s liturgy. A total of 46 people were killed and hundreds injured in two separate bombing incidents, with ISIS claiming responsibility.

In recent years, a wave of extremism has swept Egypt, especially after a period of instability caused by the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Islamic fundamentalism has triggered attacks on Christian churches and communities perpetrated by Islamist insurgency groups allied with ISIS. Christians make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s 92 million-population.

In his video message, Pope Francis says he is coming as a messenger of peace to offer brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, especially Egyptian Muslims.

“I offer heartfelt thanks to the President of the Republic, to His Holiness Patriarch Tawadros II, to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and to the Coptic-Catholic Patriarch, all of whom invited me. I also thank each of you for opening your hearts to me, and in particular all those who worked so hard to make this journey possible,” the Pope said in his video message

The Pope is scheduled to join the Egyptian President, the Grand Imam and the Patriarch of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church in an international conference on peace and inter-religious co-existence. The Peace Conference will be held at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, considered the most prestigious center of learning by Sunni Muslims.

From there, the Holy Father, along with Pope Tawadros II, will proceed to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Sts. Peter and Paul to pray for the victims of a suicide bombing during a Holy Mass last December 2016. The move is seen as the Holy Father’s expression of solidarity, not just to Catholics, but with all persecuted Christians in Egypt and the Middle East.

On Saturday, April 29, Pope Francis will celebrate an open-air mass for the Catholic community and meet with bishops and seminarians before flying back to Rome at 5 PM (11 PM Manila time).

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will help 3,000 young Egyptians to meet Pope Francis in Cairo. ACN invites everyone to offer prayers for the safety and success of the Pope’s visit in Egypt.

Urbi et Orbi: Easter Message of Pope Francis (2017)

Screengrab from the official Facebook page of Radio Vaticana

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Happy Easter!

Today, throughout the world, the Church echoes once more the astonishing message of the first disciples: “Jesus is risen!” – “He is truly risen, as he said!”

The ancient feast of Passover, the commemoration of the liberation of the Hebrew people from slavery, here finds fulfillment. By his resurrection, Jesus Christ has set us free from the slavery of sin and death, and has opened before us the way to eternal life.

All of us, when we let ourselves be mastered by sin, lose the right way and end up straying like lost sheep. But God himself, our shepherd, has come in search of us. To save us, he lowered himself even to accepting death on the cross. Today we can proclaim: “The Good Shepherd has risen, who laid down his life for his sheep, and willingly died for his flock, Alleluia” (Roman Missal, IV Sunday of Easter, Communion antiphon).

In every age, the Risen Shepherd tirelessly seeks us, his brothers and sisters, wandering in the deserts of this world. With the marks of the passion – the wounds of his merciful love – he draws us to follow him on his way, the way of life. Today too, he places upon his shoulders so many of our brothers and sisters crushed by evil in all its varied forms.

The Risen Shepherd goes in search of all those lost in the labyrinths of loneliness and marginalization. He comes to meet them through our brothers and sisters who treat them with respect and kindness, and help them to hear his voice, an unforgettable voice, a voice calling them back to friendship with God.

He takes upon himself all those victimized by old and new forms of slavery, inhuman labor, illegal trafficking, exploitation and discrimination, and grave forms of addiction. He takes upon himself children and adolescents deprived of their carefree innocence and exploited, and those deeply hurt by acts of violence that take place within the walls of their own home.

The Risen Shepherd walks beside all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes. Everywhere he helps these forced migrants to encounter brothers and sisters, with whom they can share bread and hope on their journey.

In the complex and often dramatic situations of today’s world, may the Risen Lord guide the steps of all those who work for justice and peace. May he grant the leaders of nations the courage they need to prevent the spread of conflicts and to put a halt to the arms trade.

Especially in these days, may he sustain the efforts of all those actively engaged in bringing comfort and relief to the civil population in Syria — the beloved and martyred Syria — prey to a war that continues to sow horror and death. Yesterday saw the most recent vile attack against refugees who were fleeing, which left many dead and wounded. May he grant peace to the entire Middle East, beginning with the Holy Land, as well as in Iraq and Yemen.

May the Good Shepherd remain close to the people of South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, who endure continuing hostilities, aggravated by the grave famine affecting certain parts of Africa.

May the Risen Jesus sustain the efforts of all those who, especially in Latin America, are committed to ensuring the common good of societies marked at times by political and social tensions that in some cases have resulted in violence. May it be possible for bridges of dialogue to be built, by continuing to fight the scourge of corruption and to seek viable and peaceful solutions to disputes, for progress and the strengthening of democratic institutions in complete respect for the rule of law.

May the Good Shepherd come to the aid of Ukraine, still beset by conflict and bloodshed, to regain social harmony. May he accompany every effort to alleviate the tragic sufferings of those affected by the conflict.

The Risen Lord continues to shed his blessing upon the continent of Europe. May he grant hope to those experiencing moments of crisis and difficulty, especially due to high unemployment, particularly among young people.

Dear brothers and sisters, this year Christians of every confession celebrate Easter together. With one voice, in every part of the world, we proclaim the great message: “The Lord is truly risen, as he said!” May Jesus, who vanquished the darkness of sin and death, grant peace to our days.

Happy Easter!

Pope Francis asks for URGENT PRAYERS for persecuted Christians

Pope Francis asks for URGENT PRAYERS for persecuted ChristiansJoin Pope Francis as he prays for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted and discriminated against because of their faith. Watch this video produced by The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, supported by Aid to the Church in Need, and let us pray together with the Holy Father. #PrayForPersecutedChristians #ThePopeVideo

Posted by Aid to the Church in Need Philippines on Thursday, March 2, 2017