Pope Francis leaves tomorrow on a two day apostolic visit to Egypt that is fraught with both perils and promises. EWTN television will cover all live events in collaboration with CTV (Vatican Television Center) and media coverage in general is expected to be massive and intense. Below are some reports on this papal pilgrimage – a press briefing, thje itinerary and the hopes and expectations.
BRIEFING ON PAPAL TRIP TO EGYPT APRIL 28-29
(CNS) — Despite the ongoing risk of terrorism, Pope Francis plans to travel to Egypt as a sign of being close to the people there, said Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman.
Heightened security is part of the “new normal” in many countries, but even in the wake of the Palm Sunday attacks in Egypt, it is the pope’s desire “to go ahead, to also be a sign of his closeness” to those affected by violence and all the people of Egypt, Burke told journalists April 24.
At a Vatican briefing outlining some details of the pope’s trip to Cairo April 28-29, a reporter asked if there were any worries or concerns about the pope’s security.
Burke, speaking in Italian, said he wouldn’t use the word “worries” or concerns, but would say that, “we live in a world where it is now something that is part of life.” He added, “However, we move ahead with serenity.”
The pope has requested that a “normal car” — not an armored vehicle — be used when he is driven from one venue to another, Burke said. It will not be an open-topped vehicle, he added.
The pope will use a “golf cart,” however, rather than the open-air popemobile when he makes the rounds through the crowds at the air defense stadium, where Mass will be celebrated April 29.
He also will use the golf cart for circulating among the more than 1,000 seminarians, religious and clergy expected to attend an outdoor prayer service at the Coptic Catholic Church’s St. Leo’s Patriarchal Seminary in the Cairo suburb of Maadi April 28.
Burke said that after Pope Francis’ private meeting with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, at the patriarch’s residence April 28, the two leaders will go together to the nearby church of Sts. Peter and Paul, which had been bombed during a Sunday Mass in December 2016, killing 24 people and injuring at least 45 others.
They will pray “for all the victims from these past years and months, pray for Christians killed,” Burke said.
The two will leave flowers outside the church, light a candle and then have a moment of prayer for the victims from the December attack, the Vatican spokesman said.
Soon afterward, the pope will go to the apostolic nunciature, where he will be staying, and will greet a group of children who attend a Comboni-run school in Cairo and later will greet more than 300 young people who made a pilgrimage to Cairo to see the pope, he added.
ITINERARY FOR HOLY FATHER’S TRIP TO EGYPT
(CNS) Here is the pope’s schedule as released by the Vatican. Times listed are local, with Eastern Daylight Time in parentheses. Friday, April 28 (Rome, Cairo) — 10:45 a.m. (4:45 a.m.), Departure from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport for Cairo. — 2 p.m. (8 a.m.), Arrival at Cairo airport. Official welcoming ceremony at the Heliopolis presidential palace. Courtesy visits with el-Sissi and Sheik el-Tayeb. Speeches by the grand imam and the pope to participants in an international conference on peace. — 4:40 p.m. (10:40 a.m.), Meeting with local authorities. Speeches by el-Sissi and Pope Francis. Courtesy visit to Pope Tawadros. Speeches by Pope Tawadros and Pope Francis. Saturday, April 29 (Cairo, Rome) — 10:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m.), Mass in Cairo. Homily by pope. — 12:15 p.m. (6:15 a.m.), Lunch with Egypt’s bishops and the papal entourage. — 3:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m.), Prayer gathering with clergy, men and women religious, and seminarians. Speech by pope. Farewell ceremony. — 5 p.m. (11 a.m.), Departure from Cairo airport for Rome. — 8:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m.), Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport.
(Vatican Radio) The logo for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Egypt, which takes place April 28-29, has been released by the Egyptian Catholic Church.
The three main elements present in the logo are Egypt, Pope Francis, and Peace.
“Pope of Peace in Egypt of Peace” are the words in Arabic and English at the base of the logo.
Egypt is represented by the Nile River – a symbol of life – as well as by the pyramids and the Sphinx, which highlight the long history of civilization in this African country.
The Cross and Crescent Moon at the center of the logo represent the coexistence between the various components of the Egyptian people.
A white dove signifies peace, which is both the highest gift to which every human being can aspire and the greeting of monotheistic religions.
Finally, the dove precedes Pope Francis to announce his arrival as the Pope of Peace in a country of peace.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE PAPAL VISIT
(Vatican Radio) Preparations are in full swing for Pope Francis’ upcoming apostolic visit to Egypt.
The Pope is scheduled to fly to Cairo on Friday 28th for a 2-day pastoral journey during which he will celebrate Mass, participate in a Conference for peace, meet with clergy, encourage the small Egyptian Christian community in their faith and of course promote and deepen inter-religious dialogue in the predominantly Muslim nation.
One of the highlights of the visit is his meeting with the Orthodox Coptic Patriarch, Tawadros II.
The Pope’s presence in Egypt is seen as particularly poignant in the wake of the Palm Sunday attacks on the Orthodox Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria.
Vatican Radio’s Stefano Leszjinsky spoke to missionary Sister Angela Colombi, Provincial of the Comboni Order in Egypt about her expectations for the Pope’s visit:
Sister Angela Colombi says all Egyptians are awaiting the Pope – not only the Christians!
“The Christians of course see in him not only a religious leader, but also a man of peace; the logo of the journey in fact says ‘The Pope of peace for Egypt – Egypt for peace’ – people see in him a person who is trying to tell the world we are children of the same God so why not live in peace?” she said.
Many of Sister Angela’s students will be present for the welcome ceremony for Pope Francis together with other school children and students from across Cairo.
She says they have been asked to wear their school uniforms and bring posters with the name of the school as well as Egyptian and Vatican flags.
“For me, she says, this will also teach the children to welcome – not only the Pope – but to have an attitude of welcome and to create an atmosphere of tolerance and welcome”.
ARCHBISHOP AUZA AT U.N.: HOLY SEE CONCERNED FOR MIDDLE EAST
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See has expressed deep concern over the current situation in the Middle East and reiterated its support for a two-state solution in Palestine.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, made the comments in an address to the Security Council.
Citing the “recent use of chemical agents in Syria” and the “Palm Sunday terrorist bombings in Egypt”, Archbishop Auza said, “The Holy See is deeply concerned with the current situation in the Middle East.”
He lauded Lebanon for “heroically” hosting millions of refugees from neighboring countries and territories in conflict.
In addition to this burden, he said Lebanon is also facing the threat of militias and armed groups operating within its territories.
Turning to the situation in Palestine, Archbishop Auza said, “Since 1947, the Holy See has constantly supported the two-state solution for the State of Israel and a Palestinian State to exist side by side in peace. The Holy See wishes to reiterate its belief that the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians can move forward only if it is directly negotiated between the Parties, with the strong and effective support of the international community.”
He warned against “unilateral decisions, acts of violence and inflammatory rhetoric” and said, “Pope Francis calls on both parties to listen to the voices of dialogue, show goodwill and extend gestures of encounter to give their peoples that peace for which their hearts deeply long.”
Click here for the full text of Archbishop Auza’s address: http://www.news.va/en/news/holy-see-deeply-concerned-over-middle-east-situati
HOPES FOR HOLY FAMILY WAY PILGRIMAGES IN EGYPT
AFRICA/EGYPT – There are hopes that Pope Francis’ visit to Egypt may boost plans for ‘Holy Family Way’ pilgrimages
Cairo – Pope Francis’ imminent visit to Egypt could be an opportunity for this important north African country to become a centre of pilgrimage for Christians the world over in the footsteps of the Holy Family who, according to the Gospels, took refuge here to save the life of the Infant Jesus threatened by King Herod. This is the opinion of Egyptian tourism experts who have for some time tried to fit Egypt into the circuit of Christian religious tourism, as a means to counterbalance, at least in part, the enormous losses suffered by Egypt’s tourist industry due terrorism and the general situation of instability in the region.
The most recent to view in this key the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis is Nader Guirguis, a member of the departmental Commission for promoting the Holy Family Way, who, referring to historical references based on the Gospel account, affirmed that ‘Flight into Egypt’ of Jesus and the Holy Family could possibly have lasted several years. Attacks on churches have obviously not affected the intention to propose Egypt as a land of pilgrimage for Christians all over the world, to visit places connected with Jesus and the Holy Family, preaching in the time of the Apostles and the earliest centres of Christian monasticism.
How to promote the “the Holy Family Way” – a pilgrim itinerary in places which according millenary traditions were visited by the Holy Family in Egypt – has for some time been a central issue for politicians and Egyptian tourist operators. At the beginning of 2017 Al Abdel Aal, speaker of the House of Representatives, during a visit to the Copt Patriarch offices, said the valorisation of the tourist project for an itinerary according to the path followed by Jesus, Mary and Joseph, was of interest and importance for all Egyptians, not only Christians .
The first proposals to promote also in a touristic key a Holy Family Way were made twenty years ago. At the end of 2016 – local sources told Fides – a Commission to promote the Holy Family Way chaired by Hisham el Demeiri was constituted at Egypt’s Tourism Ministry. More than two years ago an itinerary was born in the footsteps of the Holy Family in Egypt, which would start at Al-Arish – largest city of the Egyptian governorate of North Sinai and the scene of recent Jihadist violence against Copt Christians – and continue on to the Wadi Natrun delta, and reach the Asyut Holy Mary Virgin Monastery, known as Deir Al-Muharraq.