Violence negation of all true religiousness - Pope

Violence negation of all true religiousness - Pope

Violence negation of all true religiousness - Pope

The general-turned-president spoke on Friday alongside Pope Francis on the first day of the Catholic pontiffs' historic visit to Egypt, a trip primarily created to forge a united Christian-Muslim front to defeat religious militancy. Francis arrived in Egypt earlier on Friday.

Pope Francis spoke to political and civil authorities, including Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, after landing in Cairo for his two-day trip to the country.

In his speech, Francis emphasized the role of religious leaders in ending violence and promoting peace, saying they are called "to unmask the violence that masquerades as purported sanctity" and is based not on "authentic openness" to God, but on selfishness.

"True Islam does not command the killing of the innocent", he said.

The pontiff says that "Egypt, in the days of Joseph, saved other peoples from starvation; today it is called to save this beloved region from a starvation of love and fraternity".

As the cradle of the three great monotheistic religions, the region, with the help of Egypt, the Pope said, "can and indeed will awake from the long night of tribulation and once more radiate the supreme values of justice and fraternity that are the solid foundation and the necessary path to peace".

The Pope and the Grand Imam spoke at the closing of the International Conference for Peace, organized by Al-Azhar.

"The tragic experiences and the blood shed by our faithful who were persecuted and killed for the sole reason of being Christian, remind us all the more that the ecumenism of martyrdom unites us and encourages us along the way to peace and reconciliation", it reads.

Gabriel Said Reynolds, professor of Islamic studies and theology at University of Notre Dame, said the pope's visit to an overwhelmingly Muslim country where the Christian minority is largely Orthodox, showed his commitment to advancing Muslim-Christian relations.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail greeted Francis on the tarmac at Cairo International Airport, Egyptian state TV shows.

Violence negation of all true religiousness - Pope

After visiting Al-Azhar, Francis meets with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and then heads to the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which accounts for about 10 percent of Egypt's 92 million people. He will also participate in an global peace conference organized by Al-Azhar, the world's primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning.

Francis is expected to give his key address to a conference on religious dialogue at Al-Azhar, part of efforts to improve relations with the 1,000-year-old centre after Egyptian Muslim leaders cut ties in 2011 over what they said were repeated insults against Islam by Pope Benedict.

Francis headed straight to meet Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi after landing in Cairo, driving through heavily guarded streets but eschewing an armoured motorcade and instead using a normal vehicle with his window wound down.

In his speech to Egypt's leaders, Francis voiced his gratitude of the invitation to come, saying that due to the country's rich cultural and religious history, Egypt is the Misr um al-dunya, or "the Mother of the world", a phrase commonly known by Egyptians.

The Pope's visit comes almost two weeks after the Palm Sunday bombing of two Coptic churches, brazen strikes that left at least 45 people dead.

Francis has said he wanted to bring a message of peace to a country that has for years endured an increasingly emboldened insurgency led by a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group.

Besides the Palm Sunday bombings, Islamist militants on Thursday attacked a police checkpoint close to St. Catherine's monastery at Mount Sinai. Security men, meanwhile, were posted every hundred meters (yards) or so along the 20-kilometre (12-mile) stretch between the airport and central Cairo ahead of Francis' arrival and armoured cars were stationed in front of the presidential palace.

However, the pope's visit appears not to have caused much disruption to the city of some 18 million people as it fell on the Muslim Friday-Saturday weekend, when the usually congested traffic is significantly lighter.

Most importantly, he will also visit Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of learning in Sunni Islam.

"After all the pain we have experienced. we are satisfied and confident that the state is taking strong security measures to prevent terrorism and protect churches", said Father Boulos Halim, spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox church to which the majority of Egypt's Christians belong. There, he will meet grand imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb and participate in an worldwide peace conference.

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